Constitution Current Affairs

Constitution 123rd Amendment Bill, 2017 passed in Lok Sabha

Lok Sabha has passed Constitution 123rd Amendment Bill, 2017 which seeks to give constitutional status to National Commission for Backward Classes. The bill was passed by the house with 360 MPs voting in favor and 2 against the bill.

Objectives of the Bill

The Constitution 123rd Amendment Bill seeks to make the following changes:

  • It seeks to insert a new article 338B in the constitution which provides for NCBC, its composition, mandate, functions and various officers.
  • Insert a new article 342-A which empowers the president to notify the list of socially and educationally backward classes of that state / union territory. In case of a state, president will make such notification after consultation with the Governor. Under the same article, it is proposed that parliament by making a law can include or exclude the classes from the central list of backward classes.

Background

The government had created a Commission for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes via a resolution in 1987. It was given constitutional status by passing Constitution (65th amendment) Act, 1990, leading to creation of National Commission of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (NCSCST) in 1992. Via the Constitution (89th Amendment) Act, 2003; the NCSCST was split into two different commissions viz. NCSC and NCST by inserting Article 338-A. NCSC was mandated to look into the grievances and complaints of backward classes also. However, in 1992, the Supreme Court in Indra Sawhney case had directed the government to create a permanent body to entertain, examine and recommend the inclusion and exclusion of various Backward Classes for the purpose of benefits and protection. Towards this, the parliament passed National Commission for Backward Classes Act in 1993 and constituted the National Commission for Backward Classes as a statutory body. Currently, this body is responsible to look into the inclusion and exclusion of backward classes only. To safeguard the interests of these classes more effectively, there was a need to give constitutional status to NCBC. For this purpose, the above said amendment has been introduced and passed in Lok Sabha. The bill will now need to be passed in Rajya Sabha to become act.

Since the National Commission for Backward Classes Act, 1993 becomes irrelevant  once this bill becomes an act; Lok Sabha has also passed a separate bill to repeal that act.

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Don’t add Hindi dialects in Eighth Schedule: Scholars

A group of Hindi professors have written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi requesting not to add dialects of Hindi, like Bhojpuri and Rajasthani, in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution as full-fledged Indian languages.

This development comes months after Union Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal had announced that Rajasthani will be added to 8th Schedule. In December 2016, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar also had raised a similar demanded for Bhojpuri.

What these HIndi scholars are arguing?

Eighth schedule means independent identity of a language and Hindi’s prime strength is the large number of its speakers. Recognition of its dialects as separate languages will deprive Hindi of millions of its speakers. They fear that there will be eventually be no Hindi left if its key dialects are recognised as separate languages. 

Eighth Schedule of the Constitution

They are the lists official languages recognised by the Constitution. The Eighth Schedule to the Indian Constitution contains a list of 22 scheduled languages viz. Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Malayalam, Marathi, Odia, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu, Sindhi (added by 21st Amendment Act, 1967), Konkani, Manipuri, Nepali (added by 71st Amendment Act, 1992), Bodo, Dogri, Maithili, Santal (added by 92nd Amendment 2003). The list had originally 14 languages only but subsequently through amendments 8 new languages were added (highlighted in bold).

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