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Government to reintroduce Bill to grant Constitutional Status to NCBC

The proposal was stalled in the Rajya Sabha during the last parliament session. The Winter session is expected to begin from December 15.

, ET Bureau|
Last Updated: Nov 23, 2017, 12.04 PM IST
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The government had introduced a Bill in the last session to grant Constitutional status to the National Commission for Backward Classes
The government had introduced a Bill in the last session to grant Constitutional status to the National Commission for Backward Classes
The Government will reintroduce the Bill to grant Constitutional Status to the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) in the Lok Sabha in the upcoming winter session of Parliament after the proposal was stalled in the Rajya Sabha during the last parliament session. The Winter session is expected to begin from December 15.

"The Government is fully committed to ensure equity and social justice to OBCs and has decided to take up the Bill in the impending Parliament session, so that the National Commission for Backward Classes is a Constitutional Body with full powers to safeguard the rights and interests of members of Other Backward Classes," government sources said on Thursday. The government had introduced a Bill in the last session to grant Constitutional status to the National Commission for Backward Classes, on par with the National Commissions for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, and it was passed in the Lok Sabha.

During the same session, in the Rajya Sabha, while the proposal was generally supported and most members welcomed the grant of constitutional status to the NCBC, the proposed Constitutional Amendment Bill was passed with certain amendments. One amendment sought to increase the number of members of the proposed commission from three to five with reservation for a member from a minority community and another for women. Another amendment was about protecting the rights of states by making their recommendations binding.

"It was clarified by the Government that the proposed constitution of the NCBC and its powers and functions is on similar lines as the National Commissions of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, and there is no infringement of the rights of the states. The issue of ensuring diversity in the Commission is more appropriately addressed in the Rules. Therefore, the proposed amendments would only delay the process of passing the Bill.

In spite of these clarifications, the amendments were passed, and granting of Constitutional status to the NCBC was delayed. The Bill will now have to be sent to the Lok Sabha again, since the two houses have passed two different versions of the Bill," government sources said.

The government has termed the bill as a historic one to address social inequality and protect the rights of OBCs and once enacted, it will not only make the NCBC a Constitutional body, but will also empower the NCBC to hear complaints of OBCs, protect their interests and safeguard their rights.

"The National Commission for Backward Classes, a statutory body created in 1993, was given limited powers, only to recommend to the Government inclusion or exclusion of a community in the Central list of OBCs. The power to hear complaints of OBCs and protect their interests continued to be with the National Commission for Scheduled Castes. Since the National Commission for Scheduled Castes is dealing with grievances and safeguards of SCs as well as OBCs it has limited capacity to address the grievances of OBCs," government sources explained
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