With the Lok Sabha passed the Bill to grant constitutional status to the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC), the line is clear for the Commission to have equal status on par with other similar national commissions. The Bill was already approved by the Rajya Sabha with amendments amid demands from the Opposition to the government to make the caste census data public.
The Lower House passed the Constitution (123rd Amendment) Bill, 2017, superseding the amendments made by the Rajya Sabha. The Bill seeks to ensure that at least one of the five members of the National Commission for Backward Classes would be a woman and that the power of the state governments for identification of backward classes in their respective regions is not taken away.
Union Minister for Thawarchand Gehlot moved official amendments to negate the changes incorporated in the Bill by the Rajya Sabha which mandated that all the members of the proposed OBC commission would be from the backward classes. The Rajya Sabha’s amendment had also mandated that the commission should consist of a member from the minority community.
The Opposition MPs, including Bhartruhari Mahatab of the Biju Janata Dal, while supporting the Bill, had exhorted the government to ensure that the proposed commission doesn’t encroach upon the rights of the state governments.
Mahatab was supported by the Telugu Desam Party member Ram Mohan Naidu. Naidu argued that the participation of backward classes in government jobs was limited to just 11 per cent, despite a 27 per cent reservation for them. SP’s Dharmendra Yadav said the government commissioned the socio-economic and caste Census at a cost of Rs 5,000 crore and yet, the OBC caste data was not being released.