Why was the 127 Constitutional Amendment Bill Necessary?
The 102nd Constitution Amendment Act passed in 2018 imparted constitutional status to the National Commission for Backward Class (NCBC) and authorized the President to identify the communities to be included in the Socially and Educationally Backward Class (SEBC) for any state or union territory.
- It took away the power of the states to prepare the list.
- About the Maratha reservation hearing, the Supreme Court ruled that, per the 102nd constitutional amendment act, the President, with recommendations from the NCBC, is empowered to determine the communities included in the SEBC list.
- Until now, the states were responsible for identifying the communities included in the SEBCs.
- To restore the power of the states, the 127 Constitutional Amendment Bill was introduced by the Government.
- The bill asserted that the President could identify the list of socially and educationally backward classes only for the central Government.
- The 127 Constitutional Amendment Bill also enabled various states and union territories to identify the socially and educationally backward class communities and prepare their list.
- This list may or may not differ from the central list.
- For illustration, if all the state lists were nullified, around 671 OBC communities would have failed the privilege of reservations in appointments, educational institutions, and promotions.
- Approximately 20% of OBC populations in India would have been highly affected.
- It clearly described that the State has the power to make reservations for communities, including all matters within the limit of Articles 15 and 16. The only restriction they faced was identifying the SEBCs.
Changes Mandated By the 127 Constitutional Amendment Bill
The following changes to the constitution took place after the 127 Constitutional Amendment Bill came into effect:
- It amended clauses 1 and 2 of Article 342A and introduced a new clause 3, which states that the states and the union territories can maintain their list of SEBCs as was the norm.
- The bill also amended Article 338B of the Constitution. As per article 338B, the central and State governments need to consult the NCBC on all policy matters concerning the socially and educationally backward classes. The amendment in 338B brought about by the 127 Constitutional Amendment Bill, however, exempts the states and union territories from this when preparing their list of socially and educationally backward classes.
- The bill has also amended articles 366, which defines socially and educationally backward classes.
Important UPSC Topics
Significance of 127 Constitutional Amendment Bill
The 127 Constitutional Amendment Bill is important because it has removed ambiguity in the standard functioning of the SEBCs reservation.
- It allows state governments and union territories to add communities to the SEBC list as per their preference.
- Furthermore, it reinforces the position of NCBC by directing the center, states, and union territories to consult this constitutional body in matters related to SEBCs.
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Reservations were given to the oppressed by our lawmakers and were expected to remove the social divide and ensure social equality.
- However, even after 75 years of independence, social hierarchies have hardly changed in India.
- There is still a huge gap that needs to be bridged by revisiting the strategies devised till now. The 127 Constitutional Amendment Bill is a step in this direction.
Response of leaders to the 127 Constitutional Amendment Bill
The opposition leaders of the 127th Constitution Amendment Bill also supported the changes wholeheartedly. During discussions of passing the Bill, opposition leaders joked about the successful legislation of the Bill for the community polls in Uttar Pradesh, as OBCs are known to play an important role in voter turnout.
Reaction to 127 Constitutional Amendment Bill
Mallikarjun Kharge, Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha.
Stated that all opposition parties supported the amendment. However, the INC pointed out that many states want 50 percent reservation.
Adhir Ranjan Chowdhary, Lead speaker for the Opposition in the Lok Sabha.
There was a need for the bill because the ruling Government had not paid attention to the Opposition's proposals during the 102nd Constitutional Amendment, 2018.
Supriya Sule, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader.
The recognition goes to the Maharashtra government, which asked the Centre to force the Bill for the present issue.
Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), MP Dayanidhi
He hoped the UP elections arrive every year as only they think about the interests of the backward citizens.
Asaduddin Owaisi, AIMIM chief.
Questioned the Government for playing vote-bank politics and why they supported a few backward categories.
He requested that the 1950 Presidential order, offering reservations to Scheduled castes should offer equal rights to Muslims and not be based on religion.
Akhilesh Yadav, Samajwadi Party leader.
Declared the Centre’s commitment to social justice and blamed the government for playing with the reservation strategy to increase their benefit.
He pointed out Government’s anti-reservation view showing a 50% cap on reservations.
127 Constitutional Amendment Bill - Effect on OBCs
Some members of Parliament presented the matter defining Creamy Layer during the session of Parliament. Listed were the developments of OBCs that took place under the 127 Constitutional Amendment Bill.
- The Justice Rohini committee was responsible for sub-categorizing the OBC quota.
- If any specific community or group is profiting more from this quota, they had to manage to remove such irregularities.
The following was the percentage of reservations granted by the Union Health Ministry in the All India Quota (AIQ) scheme for undergraduate and postgraduate dental/medical courses between 2021-22.
- 27% reservation for the (OBCs) or Other Backward Classes.
- 10% quota for the (EWS) or Economically Weaker Sections.