LS passes bill to give constitutional status to National Commission for Backward Classes

• A crucial bill to provide constitutional status to the National Commission for Backward Classes was passed unanimously by the Lok Sabha today with over two-third majority.

• The Lok Sabha passed the Constitution (123rd Amendment) Bill 2017, superseding the amendments by the Rajya Sabha, with all 406 present voting in favour after an almost five-hour debate in which more than 30 members participated.

• During the debate on the Constitution (123rd Amendment) Bill 2017, several members demanded a census to ascertain the population of other backward classes (OBCs) while some others pressed for making public the socio-economic survey of 2014.

• Over two-thirds majority voted in favour of the bill, which is a necessity for amending the Constitution. The amendments moved by BJD’s Bhratruhari Mahtab were however rejected by 302 voting against it and 84 in favour.

• A committee under Justice G Rohini has been set up to examine sub-categorisation of Other Backward Classes.

• After the Lok Sabha had on April 10 last year passed the legislation, it was then sent to the Rajya Sabha. On July 31 last year, the Upper House passed the bill after incorporating certain amendments moved by the Opposition and returned it to the Lok Sabha for ratification of the amendments.

• The bill provides for grant 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. He may do this in consultation with the Governor of the concerned state.

• 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.

• Under this measure, the NCBC will have the powers of a civil court while probing any complaint.