Parliament Winter session: Bill to grant NCBC constitutional status to be re-introduced in Lok Sabha (IE)

 Parliament Winter session: Bill to grant NCBC constitutional status to be re-introduced in Lok Sabha (IE)

Context

Granting of constitutional status to NCBC

What has happened?

Following the impasse over the Bill to grant constitutional status to the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) in the last session of Parliament, the Union government is set to reintroduce the Bill in the Lok Sabha in the forthcoming Winter Session.

The Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-Third Amendment) Bill, 2017

  • Bill passed by LS: The Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-Third Amendment) Bill, 2017 to bring NCBC, set up in 1993, on a par with National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) and National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST), was passed by the Lok Sabha
  • Amendment to Clause III: When the Bill was brought before the Rajya Sabha during Monsoon Session, the Opposition managed to pass a crucial amendment to Clause III.

What was the amendment?

  • The amendment expanded the three-member commission to five so as to give representation to a woman and a person from minority community and mandated that all five members should necessarily be from Other Backward Classes (OBC)
  • Another amendment sought to protect the federal structure by giving states a significant role in making recommendations to the list

Present situation

In the end, the government decided to put the Bill to vote after dropping Clause III. With separate versions of the Bill being passed in the two Houses, it will now have to be passed once again in Lok Sabha

Will the amendments be included in the bill to be introduced in LS?

Sources in the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, which is responsible for drafting the legislation, however, indicated the original Bill may be reintroduced.

Impact

The NCBC currently plays a recommendatory role to the government on inclusion or exclusion of a community in the Central list of OBC. The proposed legislation will allow the NCBC to look at grievance redressal and safeguarding the interest of OBCs, powers that until now vested with the SC Commission

Panel to examine sub-categorisation

Cabinet has approved setting up of a commission to examine sub-categorisation of 5,000-odd castes in the central list. The five-member panel is headed by former Delhi High Court Chief Justice G Rohini

  • Time till January: It has time till January 2018 to submit its report on further classifying OBC based on degrees of social and educational backwardness with the stated purpose of ensuring a “more equitable distribution” of reservation in central government jobs and educational institutions

What is NCBC?

The Supreme Court of India in its Judgment dated 16.11.1992 in Indra Sawhney & Ors. Vs. Union of India and Ors, directed the Govt. of India, State Governments and Union Territory Administrations to constitute a permanent body in the nature of a Commission or Tribunal for entertaining, examining and recommending upon requests for inclusion and complaints of over-inclusion and under-inclusion in the list of OBCs

  • NCBC Act: Pursuant to the direction of the Supreme Court, the Government of India enacted the National Commission for Backward Classes Act, 1993 for setting up a Commission at National Level viz. “National Commission for Backward Classes” as a permanent body
  • The Act came into effect on the 2nd April, 1993
  • Members: Section 3 of the Act provides that the Commission shall consist of five Members, comprising of
  1. A Chairperson who is or has been a judge of the Supreme Court or of a High Court; a social scientist
  2. Two persons, who have special knowledge in matters relating to backward classes
  3. Member-Secretary, who is or has been an officer of the Central Government in the rank of a Secretary to the Government of India
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