NCBC’s constitutional backing may help 40% of the Indian population

NCBC’s constitutional backing may help 40% of the Indian population
Indian parliament building is reflected in a puddle after the rain in New Delhi, India July 20, 2018. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

  • During the Monsoon Session of Parliament 2018, the 123rd Amendment to the Constitution of India was passed to include the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC).
  • The NCBC will address the grievances and development of other backward classes (OBC).
  • This move is expected to remove the dichotomy between center and state reservation lists and bring about more transparency in the implementation of laws.
On Monday, the Rajya Sabha passed the 123rd Amendment to the Constitution which means the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) will now be included in the constitution, pending the President’s assent. The bill was originally introduced back in April 2017, where it failed to pass because BJP didn’t have the sufficient number of votes to push it through.

Passing of bill during the Monsoon Session of the Lok Sabha is symbolic in the sense that the government recognises that backward classes not only need reservations, but development as well. This means that the NCBC will have the right to ‘investigate and monitor’ how safeguards put in place for backward classes under the law are being implemented.

One might wonder why the NCBC needs to come under the constitution when the NCBC Act, 1993 is already in place. The problem lies in the fact that though there’s a uniform Scheduled Caste (SC) and Scheduled Tribe (ST) for both, the center and state, the list for other backward classes (OBC) varies from state-to-state and centre-to-state.

That being said, the disparity is only glaringly obvious is the southern states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

According to the Nation Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO), nearly 40% of India’s population belongs to the OBC category.


Constitutional rights

NCBC’s constitutional backing may help 40% of the Indian population

Once the bill comes into power, the NCBC will have the same powers as the National Commission for Scheduled Classes (NCSC) and the National Commision for Scheduled Tribes.

As of now, it’s the NCSC that looks into complaints and welfare measures that pertain to schedules classes, Anglo-Indians as well as backward classes. With the NCBC, the body will have more power in the decisions that pertain to the development of backward classes as well as addressing their grievances. Article 338 B (1) makes it clear that the commission is specifically for helping the OBC community.

This is will be enforced through the powers of the civil court that will also be enforced via the NCBC under the Constitution.

When it comes to addressing the dichotomy between the center and state OBC lists, Article 342 (A) dictates that a Presidential list will be issued in consultation with governor of a given state and any changes thereafter can only be made via parliamentary law. This adds transparency to the process of inclusive growth.

All of these functions of the NCBC will be implemented through a five-member panel put in place by the President, who will also decide their tenure and responsibilities.

Its implementation in the Constitution will also mean that the original NCBC Act of 1993 will be repealed, since the existence of both would result in a redundancy.