NCBC Current Affairs
Lok Sabha has unanimously passed Constitution (123rd Amendment) Bill, 2017 by two-third majority. The constitutional amendment bill seeks to grant National Commission on Backward Classes (NCBC) constitutional status at par with National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) and National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCSTs).
Key Features of Bill
Role of NCSC: The Bill removes power of NCSC to examine matters related to backward classes. Currently, under Constitution NCSC has power to look into complaints and welfare measures with regard to Scheduled Castes (SCs), backward classes (OBCs) and Anglo-Indians.
Constitutional status to NCBC: The Bill seeks to make NCBC Constitutional body by inserting new article 338B in constitution composition, mandate, functions and various officers of NCBC. Article 338B will give NCBC authority to examine complaints and welfare measures regarding socially and educationally backward classes.
Backward classes: The Bill inserts article 342-A to empower President to specify socially and educationally backward classes in various states and union territories. He can do this in consultation with Governor of concerned state. However, law enacted by Parliament will be required if list of backward classes is to be amended.
Composition and service conditions: The Bill mentions that NCBC will comprise of five members appointed by President. Their tenure and conditions of service will also be decided by President through rules.
Functions: Bill defines following duties of NCBC (i) investigate and monitor safeguards provided to backward classes under Constitution and other laws are being implemented (ii) inquire into specific complaints regarding violation of rights of backward classes and (iii) advise and make recommendations on socio-economic development of such classes. Union and State governments will consult NCBC on all major policy matters affecting socially and educationally backward classes. NCBC will be required to present annual reports to President on working of safeguards for backward classes. These reports will be tabled in Parliament and state legislative assemblies of concerned states.
Powers of a civil court: The Bill gives NCBC powers of civil court while investigating or inquiring into any complaints. These powers will include summoning people and examining them on oath, production of any document or public record and receiving evidence.
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.