Need for the 105 Constitutional Amendment Act
Following are the reasons why there was a need for the 105 Constitutional Amendment Act. The Constitution has given the Union and States the authority to mark the Socially and Educationally Backward Classes.
- However, when the 102 Constitutional Amendment Act giving constitutional status to the National Commission for the Backward Class (NCBC) was passed, it was interpreted by the Supreme Court that the 102nd Amendment had taken away the States’ right to identify the SEBCs.
- This fact came to light when a month after the passing of the 102nd Amendment, the Maharashtra government’s law granting the Marathas a Socially and Economically Backward Classes status was challenged in the Supreme Court, and the Supreme Court, for the first time, held that 102nd Amendment had taken away States’ powers to recognize SEBCs.
- The reason given by Justice S Ravindra Bhat is that the Parliament had added Article 342 A.
- With the combination of Article 366 and Article 338B, the States were now obliged to consult the NCBC and could not declare SEBCs independently.
- If the 102nd Amendment had only inserted Article 338B, the power of identification of the Socially and Educationally Backward Classes would have remained with the States.
- Hence, there was a requirement for modification in the 105 Constitutional Amendment Act.
Significance of the 105 Constitutional Amendment Act
The Bill aims to restore the power of State governments to recognize OBCs that are socially and educationally backward.
- The Union government has argued that the purpose of the 105 Constitutional Amendment Act is to create a Central List that would be applied only to the Central Government and its institutions.
- It had nothing to do with the State Lists of backward classes or the State governments’ powers to declare a community backward.
- The Bill will benefit around 671 OBC communities because if the state list got canceled, these number of OBC communities would have lost access to reservations in appointments and academic institutions.
- This Bill furthers social empowerment.
- It also reflects our Government’s commitment to assuring dignity, opportunity, and justice to the marginalized sections.
The Corrective Course of the 105 Constitutional Amendment Act
The Union government tried to sort the matters out. It argued that the 102nd amendment act intended to enable the Union government to identify SEBCs and would only apply to the Central government and the institutions governed by it.
- It did nothing to remove the State governments’ power to label the SEBCs.
- All political parties favored restoring the States’ power as early as possible.
- There was unanimous demand to repeal the Supreme Court’s verdict.
- Hence, the 105 Constitutional Amendment Act was introduced in Parliament and passed unanimously in both houses.
- Not a single member voted against it in the Lok Sabha.
- Thus, the Parliament restored the provisions providing States with authority to identify SEBCs.
Impact of the 105 Constitutional Amendment Act
The 105 Constitutional Amendment Act resolved the issue by amending clauses 1 and 2 of Article 342A and introducing a new clause to it, clause 3. It also modified Articles 366 and 338B.
- The act restored the State governments’ power to notify the Socially and Educationally Backward Classes.
- Arguments have been going on for and against the provision of constitutional reservation for years.
- Even after many years of independence, we, as a society, are still trying to ensure equal rights for our people and remove prejudices and discrimination through reservation.
- The 105 Constitutional Amendment Act is one more attempt to create an equal society through federal equality.
- It has ensured that States get back their right to create a list of Socially and Educationally Backward groups without consulting the NCBC.