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Rajya Sabha passes amendment to restore states’ power on OBC list

New Delhi: The Rajya Sabha has passed a key constitutional amendment bill that restores the right of states and union territories to make their own OBC lists for purposes of reservation in jobs and educational institutions. The Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty Seventh Amendment) Bill 2021, commonly known as the OBC Bill, has already been passed by the Lok Sabha.

As the bill moves in the Rajya Sabha, Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment, Virendra Kumar said it would restore the states’ ability to prepare their own OBC lists, which had previously been inhibited by the Supreme Court.

In his remarks, he thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and various parties and their members for developing a consensus to take up the important bill that ‘seeks to create history’ by granting reservations to other backward classes in the country.

The minister said that if the bill passed, it would benefit 671 communities, which is about one-fifth of all OBCs in the country. ‘I want to thank the parties and members of the House for building a consensus to discuss the bill that is in the interest and welfare of OBCs. With this consensus approach, we are moving towards creation of history in the future,’ the minister said. He said that the constitutional amendment is ‘necessary’ to allow states to be able to make their own OBC lists for providing reservations. ‘This reservation was removed by the Supreme Court while ascertaining the reservation criteria and for clarifying it, this Constitution amendment bill has been brought,’ he said, adding that it would also help ‘restore the federal structure’.

The OBC Bill was unanimously passed by the Lok Sabha on Tuesday. Even though the opposition parties supported the legislation, they demanded that the 50 percent cap be removed. They also called for caste-based censuses. The bill was passed with the support of 385 of members and no opposition.

Articles 338B and 342A were inserted into the Constitution through the 102nd Constitution Amendment Act of 2018. These deal with:

The structure, duties and powers of the National Commission for Backward Classes (338B).

The powers of the President to notify a particular caste as Socially and Educationally Backward Communities (SEBCs), and the power of Parliament to change the list (342A).

Article 366 (26C) defines SEBCs. The government introduced the Constitutional amendment bill after the Supreme Court denied its petition seeking review of its May 5 majority verdict holding that the amendment removed the states’ power to notify SEBCs for the grant of quotas in jobs and admissions.


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