80 castes to be added to the Central OBC list

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According to information, around 80 more castes in six States are going to be added to the Central List of Other Backward Classes (OBCs), with the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) already processing the approval for most of them in the Parliament.
About the move:
  • In a report released by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment (MSJE), the government had decided to include 16 communities to the Central list of OBCs from the states like Himachal Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, and Jammu and Kashmir.
  • The other states include Maharashtra, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, and Haryana, from where communities are shortlisted to get included under the central OBC list.
Currently there are 2,650 different communities listed in the Central OBC list for all States and Union Territories.
 Other Backward Classes (OBC) status and inclusion:
  • Currently, for each state, there are two OBC lists, i.e.,
  • One for the state and the Centre.
  • So, a caste included in the OBC list of a state enjoys the reservation benefits in state government jobs and educational institutions, but not with respect to central government jobs or educational institutions.
Procedure to include communities in Central List:
  • National Commission for Backward Classes Act, 1993:
    • As per the NCBC Act, 1993, the Commission is mandated to constitute a Bench to examine the proposals of inclusion and then forward their decision to the Union government (with dissent, where applicable).
    • The Cabinet then needs to approve the additions and bring legislation to this effect.
    • The President is empowered to notify the change.
Constitutional Provisions:
  • Articles 15(4) and 16(4) make special provisions for socially and educationally backward classes of citizens (SEBCs, popularly known as OBCs), the Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs).
  • The Constitution (102nd Amendment) Act, 2018: It granted constitutional status to the National Commission for Backward Castes (NCBC).
  • It further inserted:
    • Article 338B, which deals with the structure, duties, and powers of the NCBC.
    • Role of NCBC: It was tasked with monitoring safeguards provided for socially and educationally backward classes, giving advice on their socio-economic development, inquiring into complaints, and making recommendations, among other functions.
    • Article 342A, which deals with the powers of the President to notify a particular caste as an SEBC and the power of Parliament to change the list.
Supreme Court’s observations:
  • The Maratha Reservation case:
    • The SC had ruled that only the Centre had the power to draw up the OBC list, as per the above interpretation of the Constitution (102nd Amendment) Act (Article 342A only mentions the President & Parliament with no reference to states)
  • To reverse the verdict and to restore the powers of the state governments to maintain the state list of OBCs, Parliament passed the 127th Constitution Amendment Bill, 2021
  • Amendment in Articles 366(26C) and 338B (9), after which states will be able to directly notify OBC and SEBCs without having to refer to the NCBC and the “state list” was being taken out of the domain of the President and will be notified by the Assembly.

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