Supreme Court Upheld Validity of 102nd Constitution Amendment Act

What is the News?

The Supreme Court of India has upheld the constitutional validity of the Constitution 102nd Amendment Act, 2018.

About 102nd Amendment Act, 2018:
  • The 102nd Constitutional Amendment Act, 2018 gave constitutional status to the National Backward Classes Commission.
  • The Amendment also gives the President powers to notify backward classes.
  • However, several states have raised questions on the interpretation of this Amendment and argued that it curtails their powers.
Supreme Court Judgement:
  • The Supreme Court unanimously upheld the constitutional validity of the 102nd Amendment Act, 2018. However, the judges differed on- whether it affected the power of States to identify socially and educationally backward classes(SEBC).
  • By 3:2 majority, the court held that the 102nd Constitution Amendment has abrogated the power of states to identify Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBCs).
  • Further, the Court has said that the Central List will now be the “only list” for the SEBC. This means that the Centre alone is empowered to identify SEBC and include them in the Central List under Article 342A(1) for claiming reservation benefits.
  • The States could only make suggestions to the President or the statutory commissions for inclusion, exclusion, or modification of castes and communities to be included in the SEBC List.
  • Moreover, once published under Article 342A (1), the list can only be amended through a law enacted by Parliament.
Identification of SEBC:
  • In the task of identification of SEBCs, the National Commission for Backward Classes(NCBC) set up under Article 338B will guide the President.
  • If the commission prepares a report concerning matters of identification, such a report has to be shared with the State government. However, the final decision lies with the President (i.e. the Central Government under Article 342A(1).
  • Further, the states will continue to enjoy the power to make reservations in favor of particular communities or castes, within the ambit of Articles 15 and 16. They can decide on the quantum of reservations, the nature of benefits, and the kind of reservations – except with respect to the identification of SEBCs.

How does this judgement impact interventions by states to provide reservations for other communities?

  • The National Backward Classes Commission(NCBC) set up under Article 338B must publish a fresh list of SEBCs both for states and the central list.
  • Till the publication of such a list, the existing lists operating in all states and union territories continue to operate. This direction was issued under Article 142 of the Constitution of India.

Source: The Hindu


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