President Ram Nath Kovind on August 11, 2018 gave his assent to the Constitution (123rd Amendment) Bill, 2018 that seeks to provide constitutional status to the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC).
The bill was passed by the Rajya Sabha on August 6 with an absolute majority and over two-third majority of the members present and voting. All 156 members present in the house voted in favour of the bill.
The Lok Sabha had passed the crucial bill on August 2 with over two-third majority, with all 406 members present voting in favour after an almost five-hour long debate. The House had passed the bill superseding the amendments by the Rajya Sabha.
Key Provisions of the Bill
• The bill provides for granting of constitutional status to the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) on par with the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes.
• It states that the President may specify the socially and educationally backward classes in the various states and union territories in consultation with the Governor of the concerned state.
• Under the bill’s provisions, all benefits given to the SCs and STs like scholarship will also be extended to the backward classes.
• The bill will provide the NCBC with the powers of a civil court while probing any complaint.
• The duties of the NCBC include investigating and monitoring how safeguards provided to the backward classes under the Constitution and other laws are being implemented and probe specific complaints regarding violation of rights.
• The Union Cabinet has decided to amend the SC/ST Act to further strengthen the law to protect their rights.
• A committee has been set up under Justice G Rohini to examine sub-categorisation of Other Backward Classes.
• Further, the states will be given their own list of OBCs and they would be able to incorporate any caste into the OBC list.
• However, they will have to approach the union government for inclusion in the central list.
The Lok Sabha had on April 10, 2017 passed the legislation and sent it to the Rajya Sabha.
On July 31, 2018, the Upper House had passed the bill after incorporating certain amendments moved by the opposition and returned it to the Lok Sabha for ratification of the amendments.
Among the suggested amendments, the Union government has agreed to appoint one woman member from the backward classes in the NCBC.
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