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The Cabinet has cleared the Women’s Resrvation Bill which provides for 33 per cent reservation to women in Lok Sabha and state assemblies.

The bill was easily one of the most contentious pieces of legislation to be considered by Parliament. It has been hanging fire for close to 14 years due to lack of political consensus on the issue. It was first drafted by the H D Deve Gowda United Front government and brought to Parliament in September 1996.

A meeting of the Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh gave its approval to the Bill, which has already been introduced in the Rajya Sabha and was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Law and Justice, and Personnel.

The Committee, which gave its report in December last, had recommended passage of the Bill in its present form and suggested that the issue should not be left to the discretion of political parties.

Sources said that since the Bill is the property of the House, the Business Advisory Committee (BAC) would decide on when to take next step such as initiating debate and the passage.

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