Constitutional Bodies Current Affairs

Cabinet approves setting up of National Commission for Socially and Educationally backward classes

The Union Cabinet approved setting up of National Commission for Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (NSEBC) as a constitutional body.

In this regard, constitutional amendment bill for amending Constitution mainly by insertion of Article 338B will be soon introduced in the Parliament.

Union Cabinet has approved
  • Creation of a National Commission for Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (NSEBC) under new Article 338 B.
  • Composition of the new NSEBC will include Chairperson, Vice Chairperson and three other Members.
  • Insertion of provision after Article 341 and 342 by inserting Article 342 A to provide for Parliament’s approval for every inclusion into and exclusion from the Central List of Other Backward Class (OBCs).
  • Insertion of a new Clause (26C) under Article 366 of the Constitution to define Socially and Educationally Backward Classes;
  • Repealing of National Commission for Backward Classes Act, 1993 and Rules framed under it. Dissolution of the Commission constituted under the Act of 1993;
Background

There have been demands in Parliament for grant of constitutional status to the NCBC to enable it to hear the grievances of Other Backward Classes (OBCs) in the same manner like that of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (constituted under Article 338) and National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (constituted under Article 338A) hear complaint.

About National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC)

  • NCBC was established in pursuance to the Supreme Court judgement in the Indra Sawhney case (Mandal case) as per the NCBC Act, 1993.
  • Function of NCBC: Examine requests for inclusion of any class of citizens as a backward class in the lists.
  • Hear complaints of under-inclusion or over-inclusion of any backward class in such lists.
  • Tender such advice to the Central Government as it deems appropriate.
  • Its advice was ordinarily binding upon the Central Government.

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Election Commission guidelines on financial transparency

ECI’s (Election Commission of India) guidelines on financial transparency came into effect on October 1, 2014. The order was, however, passed on August 29.

Mode of holding funds and making payments

It is now virtually mandatory for political parties to deposit their funds in banks. Also, no payment in excess of Rs. 20,000 can be made to any person/company in cash, except in a village or town that doesn’t have a bank. Payments towards salary, pension or reimbursement of expenses of party employee/party functionary are exempt from the afore-mentioned rule.

Additionally, political parties cannot exceed the maximum limits that have been fixed in giving financial assistance to candidates

Maintenance of Accounts

It is the responsibility of the Treasurer of the political party to ensure maintenance of accounts at all state and lower levels along with the consolidated accounts at the central headquarters of the party. These accounts will be maintained in conformity with the guidance note on accounting and auditing of political parties that has been issued by the ICAI (Institute of Chartered Accountants of India). These accounts will then have to audited annually by certified chartered accountants in accordance with the provisions of the Income Tax Act

 ECI

The ECI derives the authority to issue the guidelines under Article 324 of the Constitution, which puts the onus of superintendence, direction and control of elections on the ECI. These guidelines are part of a larger set of comprehensive guidelines on transparency and accountability in party funds and election expenditure being brought out by the ECI. Some of the other areas where the constitutional body has been proactive are in conducting free and fair elections, issuing and enforcing the Model Code of Conduct for political parties and candidates, overseeing registration of political parties, fixing limits on poll expenses, curbing paid advertisements and prohibiting exit polls.

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