NATIONAL COMMISSION FOR BACKWARD CLASSES (Article 338-B)
NATIONAL COMMISSION FOR BACKWARD CLASSES (Article 338-B)
- In the Mandal case judgement (1992), the Supreme Court directed the central government to constitute a permanent statutory body to examine the complaints regarding the list of backward classes.
- In pursuant to these directions Parliament passed the National Commission for Backward Classes Act in 1993 and constituted the NCBC.
- The 123rd Constitution Amendment Bill of 2017 was introduced in Parliament to safeguard the interests of backward classes more effectively.
- Parliament has also passed a separate bill to repeal the National Commission for Backward Classes Act, 1993, thus the 1993 act became irrelevant after passing the bill.
- The bill got the President assent in August 2018 and provided the Constitutional status to NCBC.
- The 102nd Constitutional Amendment Act of 2018 inserted a new Article 338-B in the constitution.
- The article 340 of the Indian Constitution deals with the need to identify “socially and educationally backward classes”, understand the conditions of their backwardness and make recommendations to remove the difficulties they face.
- In the year 2017, the President of India framed a 5 member commission to explore the topic of sub-categorization of Other Backward Classes (OBC). The commission is currently headed by Former Chief Justice of Delhi, G. Rohini. This commission was appointed by the President by exercising the provisions and privileges given in Article 340 of the Indian Constitution. The main objectives of the commission are given below:
- To understand the extent of false and unjust distribution of benefits of reservation among different castes and communities in the Central OBC list.
- The actual OBC reservation will continue to be around 27%, yet the other mechanisms, criteria and related parameters will have to layout for actual sub-categorization of OBC and bring order to Central list on OBC
Previous Two Commission on Backward Class
Kalelkar Commission (1953)
- The first to identify backward classes other than the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes at the national level.
- Its conclusion that caste is an important measure of backwardness was rejected on the ground that it had failed to apply more objective criteria such as income and literacy to determine backwardness.
Mandal Commission (1980)
- The Committee report estimated the OBC population at 52% and classified 1,257 communities as backward.
- It recommended increasing the existing quotas, which were only for SC/ST, from 22.5% to 49.5% to include the OBCs.
- A decade later, its recommendations were implemented in government jobs, a move that sparked major agitations.
- To assuage the anti-reservation protesters, the P V Narasimha Rao government in 1991 introduced a 10% quota for the “economically backward sections” among the forward castes.
- The Supreme Court struck this down in the Indra Sawhney vs Union of India case (1993), where it held that the Constitution recognized only social and educational and not economic — backwardness.
- The apex court, however, held reservation for OBCs as valid and directed that the creamy layer of OBC (those earning over a specified income) should not avail reservation facilities.
- The overall reservation for SCs, STs and OBCs was capped at 50%. Based on the order, the central government reserved 27% of seats in union civil posts and services, to be filled through direct recruitment, for OBCs.
- The quotas were subsequently enforced in central government educational institutions.
|Article 338||National Commission for SCs|
|Article 338-A||National Commission for STs|
|Article 338-B||National Commission for BCs|
|102nd CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT ACT|
- The Amendment Act seeks to repeal the National Commission for Backward Classes Act, 1993 and insert Art. 338B in the Constitution in order to set up the constitutional body, besides inserting a new provision through Art. 342A to provide for Parliament’s approval for every inclusion into and exclusion from the Central List of OBCs.
- NCBC would not encroach upon the rights of the State govt. as they would have their own backward class commissions and their own lists of castes who belong to OBC.
- The NCBC would recommend only to the central govt. regarding inclusion or deletion of a particular caste in the list.
- It will ensure the commission to investigate and monitor how safeguards provided to the BC’s under the Constitution and other laws are being implemented and also evaluate how effective these safeguards are.
- To oversee the implementation of various safeguards provided to BC’s under the Constitution or under any other law for time being in force or under any other order to the Gov.t and to evaluate the working of such safeguards.
|Three other Members|
- Members are appointed by the President by warrant under his hand and seal.
- The conditions of service and tenure of office of the Chairperson, Vice-Chairperson and other Members is determined by the President.
- To investigate and monitor matters relating to BC’s
- Inquire specific complaints relating to deprivation of rights
- Participate and give advice on the planning process.
- To make recommendation for effective implementation of safeguards
- To discharge such other functions in relation to the protection, welfare and development and advancement of the BCs.
- The commission presents an annual report to the President. The President places all such reports before the Parliament, along with a memorandum explaining the action taken on the recommendations made by the Commission
- The President also forwards any report of the Commission pertaining to a State Govt. to the state Governor. The Governor places it before the state legislature.
|NEW COMPONENTS IMPARTED IN NCBC|
- Development: The 102nd amendment act has recognized that backward classes need holistic development and equality in all parameters in addition to reservations. Therefore it has provisions for the development of Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC) and the new NCBC’s role in their development process.
- Grievance redressal: The New NCBC can effectively redress the grievances of backward classes with the power of the civil court. The Act brings NCBC on par with the National Commission for SCs and National Commission for STs.
- Transparency: 342(A) introduces greater transparency since it is mandatoryto take concurrence with Parliament for adding or deleting any community in the backward classes list.
- Representation: of at least two persons having special knowledge related to backward classes and one woman in NCBC is a welcome move which makes the commission more democratic and effective in promoting interests of SEBCs.
The Commission shall have all the powers of a civil court and in particular in respect of the following matters:
- Summoning and enforcing the attendance of any person from any part of India and examining him on oath.
- Requiring the discovery and production of any document.
- Receiving evidence on affidavit.
- Requisitioning any public record or copy thereof from any court or office.
- Issuing commissions for the examination of witnesses and documents.
- Any other matter which the President may, by rule, determine
|ISSUES WITH THE NEW NCBC|
|New vs. Old||Unlike the old one, New NCBC’s chairperson and members terms are not fixed. They are at the whims and fancies of the government.|
|Comparing Power||New NCBC has been stripped off the power of advising, that was generally binding, on inclusion and exclusion in OBCs list|
|New Untouchables||Against historical fact and concept of injustices, NCBC has been given the same status as NCSC and NCST, making OBCs on a par with SCs and STs|
|A seed of constitutional crisis||The two bodies may have a clash in case of a dispute involving an OBC and an SC.|
|Against Federalism||Till now, states had the power to make their own OBCS list. Now, there will be only a central list made by Parliament.|
|Current OBCs||There is no clarification on the status of current OBCs.|
|Lack of Responsibillity||Since it has no responsibility to define backwardness, it cannot address the current challenge of demands of various castes to be included as BCs.|
|Silent on Periodic Revision||Article 338B (5) is silent on the SC mandate on periodic revision of the backward class list in consultation with the NCBC|
|COMMITTEE FOR SUB-CATEGORISATION OF OBC’s|
- A committee under Justice G Rohini has been set up to examine sub-categorization of OBC on 2 October, 2017 to examine sub-categorisation of Other Backward Classes. The sub-categorization of OBCs can ensure increased access to benefits such as reservations in educational institutions and government jobs for less dominant OBCs.
The Kalelkar Commission (1953) – was the first to identify backward classes other than the SCs and STs at the national level.
- The expert body should be constituted under the NCBC as mandated by the Supreme Court.
- The findings of the caste census and the NCBC’s recommendations should be published in a public domain by the govt. and implement reservation accordingly.
- Composition of commission should reflect the gender sensitivity and representation of stakeholders.
- The politicians should rise above Vote-bank politics and adopt value-based politics and work towards social justice.