The Narendra Modi government’s commitment to Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas, reinforced over the last two days. On Wednesday, the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Amendment Bill, approved by the cabinet, and on Thursday the Bill giving constitutional status to National Commission for Backward Classes passed by Lok Sabha.
Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thawar Chand Gehlot presented the 123rd Constitution Amendment Bill of 2017 in the house. It provides for constitutional status to the National Commission for Backward Classes. He urged members to support the bill. Members cutting across party lines supported the Bill, and also took the Congress Party to task for delay in adopting the bill. Some members demanded abolishing the creamy layer in OBC reservation.
Responding to the discussion, Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thawar Chand Gehlot said government is committed to preserving the interests of Other Backward Classes.
After the Minister’s reply the Bill was put to vote and approved wholeheartedly by the House. PM Modi was also present in the House.
The bill has initially been passed by the Lok Sabha last year, after which it received the support of the Rajya Sabha with some opposition sponsored amendments. The Lok Sabha deliberated on the amendments and rejected them. The bill will now be sent to the Rajya Sabha again.
Since it is a constitution amendment, it requires a two-thirds majority in both houses. However with a near consensus on the Bill, it seems most likely that the bill will be passed in the Monsoon session itself.
MAIN FEATURES OF THE BILL
– The Bill seeks to establish Constitutional status to National Commission for Backward Classes
– and provide it the authority to examine complaints and welfare measures regarding socially and educationally backward classes
Composition of the NCBC
– NCBC will comprise of 5 members appointed by the President
– Their tenure & conditions of service will also be decided by the President through rules
Duties of NCBC
– Investigating & monitoring how safeguards provided to the backward classes under the Constitution and other laws are being implemented
– Inquiring into specific complaints regarding violation of rights
– Advising and making recommendations on socio-economic development of such classes
– The central & state governments will be required to consult with NCBC on all major policy matters affecting the socially and educationally backward classes
Powers of a civil court
– NCBC will have the powers of a civil court while investigating or inquiring into any complaints including
a) summoning people and examining them on oath
b) requiring production of any document or public record
c) receiving evidence.
At present National Commission for Backward Classes is a body set up under the National Commission for Backward Classes Act, 1993. It has the power to examine complaints regarding inclusion or exclusion of groups within the list of backward classes, and advise the central government in this regard.