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Lok Sabha passes bill to give states power to make their own OBC lists

The Lok Sabha passed the Constitution (127th), Amendment Bill, on Tuesday, giving states the authority to make their own OBC lists.

The bill was passed by the Lok Sabha with 385 votes in favour and none against. The opposition parties have chosen to ‘cooperate’ with the administration in passing the bill and their protests in the House have been suspended.

It was introduced by Virendra Kumar, the minister of social justice and empowerment, who described it as historic legislation that will help the 671 castes across the country

According to Kumar, the bill restores states’ authority to compile their own lists of OBCs so that social and economic fairness may be provided to diverse communities.

The minister further stated that the bill should be regarded as the 105th Constitution Amendment bill after being renumbered.

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In response to calls that reservation be increased above 50%, the minister said that the administration understood members’ sentiments. He added that the courts have frequently emphasised this ceiling and the constitutional elements must be considered.

The National Commission for Backward Classes has constitutional standing when the Parliament enacted a constitution amendment bill in August 2018.

Articles 338B, which deals with the structure, duties and powers of the National Commission for Backward Classes and 342A, which deals with the president’s powers to notify a caste as an SEBC and Parliament’s power to change the list, were inserted into the 102nd Constitution Amendment Act of 2018. SEBCs are defined in Article 366 (26C).

The Supreme Court has denied the Centre’s request seeking a review of its 5 May majority verdict that held that the 102nd Constitution amendment took away the states’ power to notify SEBCs for job and admissions quotas.

The Centre has been accused by opposition parties of undermining the federal system by removing the states’ ability to define and list the Other Backward Classes (OBCs).


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