New body will replace the existing National Commission for Backward Classes.
The formation of a new commission for Other Backward Classes (OBCs) is likely to happen soon. According to sources, after Parliament passed a bill last month granting constitutional status to the new commission, the Centre has expedited the process for formation of the new commission. The government has opted for an altogether new body instead of giving more powers to the existing National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC).
The new body for OBCs will replace the NCBC, created in response to a Supreme Court ruling in 1992. The NCBC, a statutory body, had been given limited powers—only to recommend to the government regarding inclusion or exclusion of a community in the Central list of OBCs.
Sources said that the new body is likely to be headed by a person who is active in politics and has wide acceptability among OBCs in society. The search for such a person has started and the final name is likely to be announced soon.
Like the existing NCBC, the new body, too, will comprise a chairperson, a vice-chairperson and three other members.
A source closely linked to the process told The Sunday Guardian: “The search for appointment of members and head of the new body has started, and the process for formation of the new body is at an advanced stage. The government is keen on forming the new commission before the Assembly polls in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.”
“Several names have already been shortlisted—the headship will be given to a person having a political background and hailing from any of the poll-bound states like Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. The post of vice-chairman may be given to a political leader from Bihar,” the same source cited above said.
According to a former member of the NCBC, the demand for granting constitutional status to the NCBC has been pending for years. Forming a new commission having constitutional status will mean that it will be a permanent commission. A constitutional amendment requires two-thirds majority of Parliament and subsequent ratification by 50% of the state Assemblies.
On the condition of anonymity, a former NCBC member told The Sunday Guardian: “The Narendra Modi government is committed to the well-being of the country’s marginalised sections and giving constitutional status to the new OBC commission shows its commitment.”
In the Indra Sawhney versus Union of India case, the Supreme Court, in 1992, has said that it is not invalid to identify a group based on the criteria of occupation, social, educational or economic situations unless the process infringes on fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution. Following this order of the Supreme Court, the then government had formed the NCBC.