123rd Constitutional Amendment: Impact, Functions

By K Balaji|Updated : August 25th, 2022

The 123 Constitutional Amendment Bill was introduced in Parliament to bring the National Commission on Backward Classes (NCBC) at par with the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes and confer constitutional status to it.

123 Constitutional Amendment Bill, also referred to as the Constitution Amendment Act of 2018, was a bill enacted by the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha to give the constitutional position to the NCBC or National Commission for Backward Classes.

123 Constitutional Amendment Bill - History

In 2003, the NCSCST (National Commission of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes) was divided into two separate commissions, NCST and NCSC, by the 89th amendment.

  • NCSC has the power to investigate the complaints of backward classes.
  • However, the Supreme Court ordered the government in 1992 to constitute a permanent body to identify and recommend adding and deleting the backward classes from the list.
  • The Parliament passed National Commission for Backward Classes Act to set up the National Commission for Backward Classes as a statutory body.
  • Before the 123 Constitutional Amendment Bill, the commission only had the power to examine complaints regarding the inclusion or exclusion of groups on the list.
  • It is understood that NCBC needed more power to safeguard the backward classes' interests adequately. For this reason, Constitutional status got offered to help it release its duties effectively.
  • It led to the introduction the 123 Constitutional Amendment Bill in the Lok Sabha.
  • The bill sought to establish the NCBC as a constitutional body. It provided it with the power to probe the grievances and complaints of the socially and educationally backward classes (SEBC) and recommend welfare measures for them.

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Powers and Functions Under 123 Constitutional Amendment Bill

The Commission analyzes and observes all issues relating to the safeguards provided for the Constitution's socially and educationally backward classes.

  • It participates in and guides the socio-economic development of the socially and educationally backward classes and evaluates the growth improvement under the Union and any State.
  • It offers reports to the President annually upon working those safeguards. The President places such reports before Parliament house.
  • The commission has to release functions in connection to the welfare, protection, development, and advancement of the backward classes to the provisions of any law made by Parliament.
  • NCBC has all the authorities of a civil court while attempting a case.

123 Constitutional Amendment Bill - Constitutional Changes

The main goal of the 123 Constitutional Amendment Bill was to confer constitutional status to NCBC and modify the following constitutional provisions:

  • The bill has added article 338B to the Constitution, which delineates the composition of NCBC, earmarks its responsibilities, and specifies the officeholders of the Commission.
  • A new Article 342A was also inserted through the 123 Constitutional Amendment Bill and authorized the President to identify the socially and educationally backward classes of a state or union territory after consultation with the governor of that state.
  • Also, Parliament can add or delete a particular community to the backward class list.

Impact of 123 Constitutional Amendment Bill

After Parliament cleared the 123 Constitutional Amendment Bill, it got the permission of the President; the following changes ensued:

  • The duties of the NCBC were now expanded to include monitoring and examining if safeguards provided to the SEBC were being implemented or not, investigating the complaints filed by the backward classes regarding the violation of rights, and advising the union government on the steps to be taken for the welfare and development of SEBC.
  • The union and the state governments will consult the NCBC regarding policies concerning the socially and educationally backward classes.
  • The President will be presented with the annual report by NCBC on working on the safeguards for backward classes.
  • The NCBC got the powers of a civil court under the 123 Constitutional Amendment Bill. When conducting any inquiry and investigating the complaints by the socially and educationally backward classes, it can summon people and call for their presence, examining them on oath.
  • The NCBC can ask to produce any document or public record and receive evidence.
  • There was a longstanding demand to award a constitutional status to the backward class commission, which got discussed in Parliament several times.
  • SEBC is religion-neutral, and NCBC aims to provide social justice in its truest form by safeguarding their rights and privileges through the 123 Constitutional Amendment Bill.
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FAQs on 123 Constitutional Amendment Bill

  • 123 constitutional amendment bill, passed in 2017, deals with empowering the National Commission of backward classes. The bill was passed as the 102nd Constitutional Amendment Act, 2018.

  • NCBC (National Commission on Backward Classes) was given constitutional status through the 123 Constitutional Amendment Bill. Two Backward Class Commissions got established in the 1950s and 1970s under Kaka Kalelkar and B.P. Mandal, respectively.

  • Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment Mr. Thaawarchand Gehlot introduced Parliament's 123 Constitutional Amendment Bill. The bill got introduced in Parliament to protect the welfare of backward classes more effectively.

  • President Ram Nath Kovind permitted the 123 Constitutional Amendment Bill. The bill got the President's permission in August 2018 and provided the constitutional status to National Commission for Backward Classes.

  • Before the introduction of the 123 Constitutional Amendment Bill, the NCBC was a statutory body. The new act has recognized that backward classes also require more reservations. There is provision for developing Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEdBCs) and their new role.

  • It is known that the new arrangement of the NCBC is unlikely to provide credible and adequate social justice. Characteristics of the expert body, as directed by the Supreme Court, are not provided in the design of the new NCBC. The commission cannot handle the current challenge of demands of various castes who are backward.

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