National Commission for Backward Classes Current Affairs
Parliament has passed Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-Third Amendment) Bill, 2017 that seeks to provide constitutional status to the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC). Now, the bill will be sent to President for his assent (as per 368 of Constitution). Parliament also passed separate bill to repeal National Commission for Backward Classes Act, 1993 as it will become irrelevant once Constitution (123rd Amendment) Bill comes into force.
Key Features of Bill
The Constitution (123rd Amendment) Bill provides for granting of constitutional status to NCBC on par with National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) and National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCSTs). It empowers President to specify socially and educationally backward classes in various states and union territories in consultation with Governor of concerned state.
The bill provides duties of NCBC to investigate and monitor safeguards provided to socially and educationally backward classes backward classes under Constitution and other laws being implemented and probe specific complaints regarding violation of rights. It also provides NCBC with powers of civil court while probing any complaint against notified socially and educationally backward classes.
The Constitutional Amendment Bill was first passed with over two-third majority, with all 406 members present voting in favour. It had passed bill by superseding amendments suggested by earlier by Rajya Sabha by incorporating alternate amendments as well as some more changes. The bill passed by Lok Sabha was again passed by Rajya Sabha in same format with absolute majority and over two-third majority of members present and voting (All 156 members present in the house voted in favour of the bill).
Note: Lok Sabha in April 2017 (Budget session 2017) had passed Constitution (123rd Amendment) Bill, 2017 and sent it to the Rajya Sabha. But in July 2017 (during 2017 Monsoon session), Rajya Sabha passed bill after incorporating certain amendments moved by Congress-led opposition and returned it to Lok Sabha for ratification of amendments. The amendments had increased three-member NCBC to five members so as give representation to woman and person from minority community. It also had mandated that all five members should necessarily be from OBC communities. It also had added another amendment sought to protect federal structure by giving states significant role in making recommendation to the list. Among suggested amendments, Union government had agreed to appoint one woman member from backward classes in NCBC. Other amendments were rejected.
Central Government has notified inclusion of 120 castes/communities, their synonyms and sub-castes in the Central List of Other Backward Classes (OBCs) for different States/Union Territories in the last three years. It was informed by Ministry of State for Social Justice and Empowerment in written reply in Lok Sabha.
The castes and communities, their synonyms and sub-castes were notified on basis of advice tendered by National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) under Section 9(1) of NCBC Act, 1993. The NCBC determines inclusion of castes/communities in the Central List of OBCs on the basis of norms established w.r.t. social, educational, economic, representation in central services and miscellaneous parameters. The castes and communities listed in the Central OBC list get reservations in appointments in government jobs and admissions into government institutions.
National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC)
NCBC is statutory body established under NCBC Act, 1993 in the aftermath of Mandal Case (1992) judgement. It was established on directives of Supreme Court as it had ordered to set up permanent statutory body to look into complaints of under-inclusion, over-inclusion or non-inclusion of any class of citizens in list of OBCs.
Composition: NCBC comprises Chairman, Social Scientist, two persons having special knowledge in matters of backward classes and member secretary. The chairperson must have been Judge of Supreme Court or High Court. Their appointments, removal and decision regarding salaries, allowances etc. are done by the Central Government. Chairperson and members have tenure of three years.
Functions & Powers of Commission
NCBC examines request for inclusion of castes into backward classes and hear complaints of over and under inclusion. Its advice is generally binding upon central government. Further, every 10 years, the central government undertakes revision of the lists by consulting it. The commission has powers of a civil court in few matters.
Report of Commission
NCBC presents annual report to Central Government containing full account of its activities during previous year. The report is placed before each House of Parliament by Central Government, along with memorandum explaining action taken on advice tendered by Commission. The memorandum also contains reasons for non-acceptance of any such advice.