National Commission for Backward Classes 2018- A critical Analysis - Seeker's Thoughts

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National Commission for Backward Classes 2018- A critical Analysis

NCBC should maintain its expertise and its role as an expert body that adheres to the Supreme Court guidelines for defining backwardness, and make public all details from the caste census and implement reservations accordingly. Furthermore, OBCs must be subcategorized in order to enhance transparency and access benefits more readily.

Furthermore, they must investigate grievances and seek resolution according to law, while performing any additional functions related to safeguarding, welfare development and progress of socially and educationally backward classes.

A Milestone or a Roadblock for the Backward Classes in India?

This passage of the 123rd Constitutional Amendment Act gave constitutional status to the National Commission for Backward Classes - marking an historic achievement and offering those from backward classes more rights and opportunities than ever. But its composition will be crucial if it's going to function effectively.

As instructed by the Supreme Court, the new commission should follow expert panel characteristics in its composition. Gender sensitivity and stakeholder representation should both be included within its membership. Furthermore, its focus should move away from vote bank politics toward value-based politics to ensure that only truly marginalized sections of society benefit from reservation policies.

More importantly, however, is for the NCBC to have sufficient powers to conduct investigations and investigate safeguards implemented for backward groups under the Constitution and other laws; additionally it should evaluate whether these safeguards are actually working effectively.

Additionally, the NCBC should be allowed to tackle issues surrounding state-level backward class lists. State governments possess greater insight into their respective social environments, making it more challenging for the NCBC to effectively comprehend and evaluate these matters at national level.

The Commission’s Composition

The Commission is comprised of a chairperson, vice-chairperson, and four additional members who are appointed by the President by warrant under his hand and seal. Terms of service and length of office for all of its members are determined by him; 30 percent are representatives from industries like industry, trade and banking while architects engineers planners take up 25 percent. Government employees account for 12.5 percent.

The Commission is charged with reviewing welfare claims and programs targeting socially and educationally marginalized classes, and investigating their functioning and effectiveness of safeguards available to them.

The National Council on Broadcasting and Cable (NCBC) received constitutional status under the 102nd Constitution Amendment Act of 2018, having previously operated as a statutory body under the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment. NCBC was formed through the merger of two earlier Backward Class Commissions established by Kaka Kalelkar and B. P Mandal. Although its recommendations are non-binding upon government officials, NCBC remains the official body to oversee such matters. Given that the Commission should serve as an impartial and independent authority, it is vital that it include women and people with an in-depth knowledge of backward classes. As for its membership selection process, the government should take gender sensitivity and stakeholder representation into consideration when choosing its members. Furthermore, caste census results must be made public and reservation policies implemented accordingly. Finally, political parties must sub-classify OBCs to ensure less dominant groups receive access to benefits such as reservations in educational institutions and government jobs. For these marginalized sections to enter mainstream politics successfully, political parties must rise above vote bank politics and focus on values-based politics instead.

The Commission’s Powers

The Commission is charged with investigating complaints and welfare programs pertaining to backward classes and providing advice regarding their socio-economic development. It evaluates safeguards implemented for them and submits reports annually or as otherwise determined to the President. Furthermore, it has the power to requisition any public record and require witnesses and evidence be brought forward before courts of law for examination.

The 102nd Amendment Act transforms the National Backward Class Commission (NCBC) into a constitutional body and increases transparency by mandating that Parliament approve any addition or deletion from the backward class list, casting census findings and recommendations are publicized, while composition must reflect gender sensitivity, stakeholder representation, value-based politics over vote bank politics so that only truly backward sections of society receive benefits of reservation.

The government should release information regarding the results of its caste census and implement its reservation system accordingly. In addition, sub-categorizing OBCs so that less dominant OBCs have greater access to benefits like reservations in government positions and educational institutions. It's also crucial that NCBC have a clear definition of backwardness so that reservations don't become politicised or diminished due to political considerations.

The Commission’s Role

The Commission must investigate any matters concerning safeguards available to socially and educationally backward classes (SEBCs) under this Constitution or other relevant legislation in force at that time, evaluate their effectiveness, as well as inquire into any complaints alleging deprivation of rights or safeguards of SEBCs.

The Commission must submit reports to the President, who in turn presents them before both houses of Parliament. Furthermore, as appointed by the President and subject to any laws passed by Parliament, the commission may assume any other responsibilities or roles determined by him/her; additionally it has all of the same powers a civil court would possess during an actual trial process.

Conclusion The National Commission for Backward Classes is an important tool that fosters social justice in India. The commission ensures that disadvantaged groups are treated fairly, having opportunities to progress. For this to be effective, its composition must demonstrate gender sensitivity and stakeholder representation; additionally, government must publish caste census results publicly while offering reservations to those most needy; finally it should move away from vote bank politics to adopt value-based approach to politics.

The National Criminal Background Check System is an institution which must be strengthened to meet the needs of our most vulnerable population members. To do this, its membership should consist of individuals passionate about social justice.

Some other facts:

When NCBC was set up? The NCBC is a body set up under the National Commission for Backward Classes Act, 1993

What is National Commission for Backward classes- Under the Constitution the National Commission for Schedule Casts or NCSC has the power to look into complaints and welfare measures with regard to Scheduled Castes, backward classes and Anglo-Indians. So the Indian government decided to bring a different constitutional body specially for Backward Classes.

What is the matter and new things in the bill? 

The Constitution (123rd Amendment) Bill, 2017 was introduced in Lok Sabha by the Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment,  Mr. Thaawarchand Gehlot on April 5, 2017.  It seeks to grant the National Commission on Backward Classes (NCBC) constitutional status, at par with the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) and the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes.

The Bill seeks to remove the power of the NCSC to examine matters related to backward classes.
The Bill seeks to establish the NCBC under the Constitution, and provide it the authority to examine complaints and welfare measures regarding socially and educationally backward classes.

Note that this Bill was introduced alongside the National Commission for Backward Classes (Repeal) Bill, 2017 that seeks to repeal the National Commission for Backward Classes Act, 1993.

Constitutional status to National Commission for Backward Classes
Backward classes:  The Constitution Amendment Bill states that the President may specify the socially and educationally backward classes in the various states and union territories.  He may do this in consultation with the Governor of the concerned state.  However, a law of Parliament will be required if the list of backward classes is to be amended.

Composition and service conditions:  Under the Constitution Amendment Bill, the NCBC will comprise of five members appointed by the President.  Their tenure and conditions of service will also be decided by the President through rules.

Functions:  Under the Constitution Amendment Bill, the duties of the NCBC will include:
 (i) investigating and monitoring how safeguards provided to the backward classes under the Constitution and other laws are being implemented, 
(ii) inquiring into specific complaints regarding violation of rights, and 
(iii) advising and making recommendations on socio-economic development of such classes.  The central and state governments will be required to consult with the NCBC on all major policy matters affecting the socially and educationally backward classes.

The NCBC will be required to present annual reports to the President on working of the safeguards for backward classes.  These reports will be tabled in Parliament, and in the state legislative assemblies of the concerned states.

Powers of a civil court:  Under the Constitution Amendment Bill, the NCBC will have the powers of a civil court while investigating or inquiring into any complaints.  
These powers include: (i) summoning people and examining them on oath, (ii) requiring production of any document or public record, and (iii) receiving evidence.

Criticism- India has failed to address the issues between class and caste. The current NCBC was created in 1993. The new provision article 338 B is identical to the Article 338 A which created the national commission for SC and ST.

The 123rd Amendment Bill brings backward classes like SC /ST as a victim of discrimination, exclusion and violence.

1.      It lacks historical justification regarding backwardness of classes. 

2.      It is bound to create more problems as now issues may be more politically motivated.

3.      The task of identifying backward classes remains unclear.

4.      Parliament will determine the category of Backward Classes in Central list instead of Earlier National Commission for Backward classes under article 340 of the Indian Constitution.  New amendment delinks article 340 related to backward classes. . 

6.      NCBC will hear grievances; inquire into complaints, summons officials given its power as a civil court,

7.      Two constitutional bodies may clash as sometimes as conflict of interest between National Commission for Backward classes and National Commission for Schedule Class may arise.