Context:
  • The Union on Wednesday raised the creamy layer ceiling by Rs 2 lakh and announced setting up of a commission to work out sub-categorisation within Other Backward Classes (OBCs) for a “more equitable distribution of reservation benefits”.

Introduction:

  • The Commission shall be known as the Commission to examine the sub-categorization of Other Backward Classes(OBCs
  • The commission will submit its report within 12 weeks from the date of appointment of the Chairperson.
  • The commission  will be set up under the Article 340 of the Constitution of India

What is the meaning of Other Backward Classes (OBC)?

  • A community is classified as “OBC” if it qualifies as “backward” based on a complex set of social, economic and educational criteria, as specified by the National Commission on Backward Classes (NCBC).
What is the constitutional status of Backward Class?
  • The Constitution refers to the term ‘backward classes’ in Articles 15(4), 16(4) and 340(1).
  • Articles 15(4) and 16(4) empower the State to make special provisions for any socially and educationally backward class of citizens.
  • Article 340(1) authorises the appointment of a Commission to investigate the conditions of backward classes.

What are the Benefits of commission?

  • The commission will work for more equitable distribution of reservation benefits, as it raised the income ceiling for “Creamy layer”
  • It has been recommended on the grounds of equity and fair play by not equating these Extremely Backward Classes with the forwards among the backward classes.
  • The Cabinet also increased the “creamy layer” ceiling for the Other Backward Classes to 8  lakh per annum from the existing Rs 6 lakh for Central government jobs.
  • Those earning up to Rs 8 lakh per annum would now get the benefits
  • The raised limit will also be applicable to public sector undertakings,

Background:

  • The Supreme Court, in its November 1992 order, had observed that there is no constitutional or legal bar to state categorising backward classes as backward or more backward.
  • The scrapped national commission for backward classes in 2015 had recommended three categories for OBCs — extremely backward classes, more backward classes, and backward classes.
  • It proposed division of the 27% quota for OBCs according to the population and degree of backwardness.
  • The new body is likely to be similar to the National Commission for Scheduled Castes under Article 338 and the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes under Section 338A which were introduced in the Constitution by way of two constitutional amendments in 1990 and 2003.
  • What will be the Functions of committee?
  • The committee has to examine the “extent of inequitable distribution of benefits of reservation” among various castes and communities that come under the Central OBC list
  • The committee has also to work out the mechanism, criteria, and parameters for the actual sub-categorization.
  • The another task is bringing order to the Central list of OBCs by removing any repetitions.
  • The commission will examine the extent of inequitable distribution of benefits of reservation among the castes or communities included in the broad category of OBCs, with reference to the OBCs included in the Central list.

What functions committee will perform related to  Sub-categorisation of OBC ?

  • The Cabinet approved setting up of a commission to examine the sub categorization of backward communities in the central list to ensure that the benefits extended to OBCs reach all the communities,
  • Presently, there is no sub categorisation in the central list.
  • What is the Composition of commission?
  • The new body too will comprise of a chairperson, a vice-chairperson and three other members.

What are the related cases?

  • In the case of Indra Sawhney versus Union of India, the Supreme Court in 1992 found that it was not invalid to identify a group by any criteria like occupation, social, educational or economic situations.
  • It was noted that social and educationally backward class under Article 340 had to be construed in a limited sense and did not have the wide sweep as under the fundamental right guaranteed to backward classes in Article 16(4).
  • This provision empowers the government to make reservations in appointments in favour of “any backward class of citizens”.
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