Who decides the OBC list, State Governments or Centre?

India Sep 29, 2021

The Indian Constitution gives the state the authority to identify and announce a list of socially and educationally backward castes in accordance with Articles 15(4), 15(5), and 16(4). A list of them is developed by the Centre and each state independently.

On August 9, Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment Virendra Kumar tabled the Constitution (127th Amendment) Bill, 2021 in the Lok Sabha. The law attempts to restore states' authority to create their OBC lists.

On August 10, the Lok Sabha overwhelmingly passed the Constitution (127th Amendment) Bill, 2021. The measure was passed in the Lower House of Parliament by a vote of more than two-thirds of the members present.

The act intends to restore the ability of states and union territories to create their OBC list.

Why is the 127th Constitutional Amendment Bill required?

The amendment was required after the Supreme Court upheld the 102nd Constitutional Amendment Act in its Maratha reservation ruling in May but stated that the President would decide which communities would be included on the state OBC list based on the recommendations of the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC).

After Article 342, the 102nd Constitution Amendment Act of 2018 introduced Articles 338B and 342A (with two clauses). Article 338B outlines the organization, functions, and powers of the National Commission for Backward Classes. According to Article 342A, the President, in collaboration with the Governor, would identify the socially and educationally disadvantaged groups.

The amendment is required to restore state governments' authority to maintain a state list of OBCs, which were removed by a Supreme Court interpretation. If the state list is scrapped, roughly 671 OBC communities would lose access to reservations in educational institutions and appointments. Nearly one-fifth of all OBC communities will suffer as a result of this.

What will the 127th Constitution Amendment Bill include?

  1. The 127th Constitution Amendment Bill will alter clauses 1 and 2 of Article 342A and add a new clause 3. The Bill will also alter Articles 366 (26c) and 338B. (9).
  2. The 127th Amendment Bill is intended to clarify that states may continue to retain the "state list" of OBCs, as was the system previous to the Supreme Court decision. Article 366 (26c) specifies socially and educationally backward groups.
  3. The Bill proposes to remove the "state list" from the President's purview and notify the state Assembly instead.

During the vote-counting process, 385 Lok Sabha members voted in favor of the bill, with none voting against it.

This article has been written by Omer Khan for The Paradigm

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