The Lok Sabha, on August 10, passed The Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-Seventh Amendment) Bill, 2021 after a discussion that lasted nearly six hours.
- The Bill that aims at restoring powers of states to notify backward classes received Opposition’s support, in a rare display of unity after more that three weeks of constant protests in both Houses over Pegasus Project report, farm laws and price rise.
- The Opposition parties decided to cooperate with the government in passing the Bill and suspended their protest till it was passed in the Lower House.
What is the Constitution (127th) Amendment Bill, 2021?
- The Bill seeks to clarify “some provisions in the 102nd Constitutional amendment Bill” to restore the power of the states and union territories to to prepare their own list of socially and educationally backward classes (SEBC).
- The Amendment Bill amends Articles 342 A (clauses 1 and 2) and will introduce a new clause – 342 A (3) specifically authorising states to maintain their state list.
- There will be a consequential amendment in Articles 366(26c) and 338B (9).
- The states will thus be able to directly notify SEBCs without having to refer to the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC).
Why is the Bill needed?
- The amendment was necessitated after the Supreme Court, in its Maratha reservation ruling in May, upheld the 102nd Constitutional Amendment Act.
- The Apex Court said the President, based on the recommendations of the NCBC, would determine which communities would be included on the State OBC list.
- The 102nd Constitution Amendment Act of 2018 gave constitutional status to the NCBC, and empowered the President to notify the list SEBCs for any state or union territory.
- The 2021 Bill, however, amends this to provide that the President may notify the list of socially and educationally backward classes only of the central government.
- Thus the amendment Bill bypasses the SC ruling and restores the powers of the state governments to maintain a state list of OBCs.
- The Bill has political ramifications as restoring powers of the states to identify backward classes has been a demand by many regional parties and even the ruling party’s OBC leaders.
- The BJP, and the Opposition parties, including the Congress, want to get support among the OBC communities in the poll-bound states, especially in the politically crucial Uttar Pradesh.
Source -The Hindu