I happened to read the Cover Story article in the magazine, ‘The Modern Rationalist’ (May 2017) titled, ‘CONSTITUTION 123rd AMENDMENT BILL’ contributed by Dr. Justice A.K.Rajan, former Judge of Madras High Court. The write-up proffers an insight pertaining to the aftermath the conferment of the Constitutional powers with the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC), which is likely to be on par with the National Commission for the Scheduled Castes (NCSC) and the National Commission for the Scheduled Tribes (NCST), through the proposed 123rd Amendment of the Indian Constitution. It is apparent that the NCBC is to be vested with status and powers on the basis of the amendment. At present, the law which establishes and regulates NCBC is the National Commission for Backward Classes Act 1993 [Act 27 of 1993]. But, the Act has been proposed for repeal through the National Commission for Backward Classes (Repeal) Bill, 2017. One could infer that, both NCSC and NCST have been functioning with Constitutional powers vested upon them vide Articles 338 and 338A respectively. Through the proposed 123rd Amendment of the Indian Constitution, a new Article 338B is about to be included that is meant for conferring Constitutional powers to NCBC.
Following are excerpts from the article of Dr. Justice A.K.Rajan:
* The rights of States to identify the SEBCs so far exercised have been deprived to the level of mere consultation with them.
* Sub clause 5 (c) of Article 338B clearly eliminates the participation and the advice of the State concerned in the planning process of the socio – economic development of its SEBCs. As per the clause, NCBC is permitted to render only an advice on the socio – economic development of its SEBCs. This is in contrast to the way in which Articles 338 and 338A allow the NCSC and NCST in participating and advising on the planning process of socio – economic development of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes respectively.
* Articles 341 and 342 confer powers that the President may specify the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes respectively. The provision 342A (1) has been inserted in the Bill in similar line conferring, Constitutional powers on the President to specify the SEBCs for the Central List. An amendment to Article 366 by adding sub clause 26(C), says that the socially and educationally backward classes mentioned as part of the provision 342A will be considered for the purposes of the Constitution.
* For almost 50 years, Tamil Nadu Government tried to include the community called ‘Nari – Kurvas’ also known as ‘Kuruvikkaran’ in the list of Scheduled Tribes with the Centre but in vain. Finally, the Tamil Nadu Government included the community in the list of SEBCs.
At the end of the write-up, ‘CONSTITUTION 123rd AMENDMENT BILL’, the author suggests modifications to the Articles 342A (1) and 342A (2) and newly adds Articles 342A (3) and 342A (4) to the Constitution.
Modifications specified in the Articles 342A (1) and 342A (2) and newly added Articles 342A (3) and 342A (4) as stated in the write-up are meant thus:
Article 342A (1):
Central List of SEBCs is meant for the purposes of making provisions for reservation of posts under Government of India or under any other authority of Government of India or under the control of the Government of India or seats in the central educational institutions. Modification is suggested that President may specify on the request made by the Governor instead of consultation.
Article 342A (2):
President may include or exclude the SEBCs in the Central List as per the advice of NCBC instead of enactment of legislation for that purpose.
Article 342A (3):
State List of SEBCs meant for the purposes of making provisions for reservation of posts under that State or under any other authority of the State or under the control of the State; or seats in the educational institutions within that State. The Governor of the State specifies the SEBCs for that State.
Article 342A (4):
The Governor may on the advice of the State Commission for Backward Classes include or exclude any class from the State List of SEBCs.
The above mentioned improvisations ensure the continuance of a federal polity in India. Now, all what we the citizens of India can do is to wait to know on what is in pipeline for the States to be provided by the Centre.