Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Virendra Kumar added the Constitution (127th Amendment) Bill, 2021 in the Lok Sabha on Monday. The bill attempts to rebuild the states’ power to make their own OBC lists.
In the description of objectives and purposes, Kumar said in order to sufficiently explain that the states and Union territories are allowed to provide and manage their own list of SEBCs (Socially and Educationally Backward Classes) and with a way to keep the federal structure of this country, there is a requirement to amend Article 342A and make significant amendments in articles 338B and 366 of the Constitution.
The 102nd Constitution Amendment Act of 2018 included articles 338B, which administers the structure, duties and powers of the National Commission for Backward Classes, and 342A that deals with the powers of the president to declare a particular caste as an SEBC and the power of Parliament to amend the list. Article 366 (26C) defines SEBCs.
The Supreme Court has rejected the Centre’s plea asking for a review of its May 5 majority judgment that held that the 102nd Constitution amendment carried away the states’ power to declare SEBCs for the privilege of quota in jobs and admissions.
Opposition parties had challenged the Centre for violating the federal structure by carrying away the capability of the states to recognise and list the Other Backward Classes (OBCs).
However, Kumar told the Rajya Sabha last month that the government is in discussion with legal experts and the Ministry of Law and considering ways to preserve the capability of the states in preparing the state lists of OBCs.
On May 5, a five-judge Constitution bench of the Supreme Court, directed by Justice Ashok Bhushan, had consistently set aside a Maharashtra law conferring quota to Marathas and declined to apply the 1992 Mandal verdict that put a 50-per cent cap on the reservation to a larger bench.