Context:

The Lok Sabha passed the Constitution 127th Amendment Bill, 2021 restoring States’ rights to specify OBC groups.

Relevance:

GS-II: Social Justice and Governance (Issues related to Minorities, Government Policies and Interventions, Social Empowerment)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Constitutional 127th Amendment Bill, 2021
  2. Why was the 127th Amendment Bill needed?
  3. Why is the opposition supporting the amendment bill?

Constitutional 127th Amendment Bill, 2021

  • The Constitutional (127th) Amendment Bill, 2021 will amend clauses 1 and 2 of Article 342A and also introduce a new clause 3. The bill will also amend the Articles 366 (26c) and 338B (9).
  • It is designed to clarify that the states can maintain the “state list” of OBCs as was the system before the Supreme Court judgement.
  • The “state list” will be completely taken out of the ambit of the President and will be notified by the state assembly.
  • As per the Indian Constitution, Articles 15 (4), 15 (5), and 16 (4) confer power on the State Government to declare and identify the list of socially and educationally backward classes. As a practice, separate OBC lists are drawn up by the Central Government and each State concerned.

Why was the 127th Amendment Bill needed?

  • The latest amendment was necessitated after the Supreme Court in its Maratha reservation ruling in May 2021 upheld the 102nd Constitutional Amendment Act but stated that the President, based on the recommendations of the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC), will determine which communities will be included on the state OBC list.
  • The 102nd Constitution Amendment Act of 2018 had inserted the Articles 338B and Article 342 A (with two clauses) after Article 342.
  • Articles 338B deals with the structure, powers, and duties of the National Commission for Backward Classes. Article 342A says that the President, in consultation with the Governor, will specify the educationally and socially backward classes.
  • The 127th Amendment is required to restore the powers of the State Governments in order to maintain the state list of OBCs which was taken away by the Supreme Court interpretation.
  • In case the state list is abolished, nearly 671 OBC communities will lose access to the reservations in educational institutions and in appointments which will adversely impact nearly one-fifth of the total OBC communities.

Why is the opposition supporting the amendment bill?

  • The opposition in Parliament stated that it will extend its support to the 127th Constitution Amendment Bill which gives power to the States to identify the OBCs.
  • The amendment bill has political ramifications as restoring powers of State Governments to identify the backward classes has been demanded by many regional parties.
  • The ruling BJP and the opposition parties, including Congress plans to get support among OBC communities in poll-bound states, particularly in politically crucial Uttar Pradesh.
  • The political angle of the bill has forced the opposition parties to be on the same page as the Ruling party.

-Source: The Hindu

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