Explained: The OBC Bill, Opposition’s backing and the powers states get

by Jeremy

The passage of the OBC Bill witnessed a consensus even as unrest continued in the Parliament over the Pegasus spyware row and farm laws. (PTI Photo)

The passage of the Constitution (127th Amendment) Bill in the Lok Sabha saw a rare consensus in Parliament with 385 members voting in support and no member opposing it. Aimed at restoring the power of states to make their lists of Other Backward Classes (OBCs), the bill is expected to become a law soon, owing to unanimous support across party lines.

The Amendment Bill seeks to restore the powers to states to notify backward classes, bypassing a May 2021 verdict of the Supreme Court, which allowed only the Centre to report socially and educationally backward classes (SEBCs).

What is the Supreme Court’s May 21 verdict?

In a definite verdict, while hearing the Maratha quota issue, the Supreme Court had on May 5 upheld the 102nd Constitutional Amendment but said that the President, based on the recommendations of the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC), would determine which communities would be included on the state OBC list. 

“In the task of identification of SEBCs, the President shall be guided by the Commission set up under Article 338B; the state shall also seek its advice regarding policies that might be framed by it. Suppose the commission prepares a report concerning matters of identification. In that case, such a report must be shared with the state government, which is bound to deal with it, by provisions of Article 338B. However, the final determination culminates in the exercise undertaken by the President (i.e., the Central Government, under Article 342A (1), because of Article 367 read with Section 3 (8) (b) General Clauses Act),” the judgment read.

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