Lok Sabha Passes Bill to Give States Power to Make Own OBC Lists

The Opposition has pledged its support to the Constitution (One hundredth and twenty seventh amendment) Bill, 2021.

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The Lok Sabha on Tuesday, 10 August, passed the Constitution (One Hundredth and Twenty Seventh Amendment) Bill, 2021, that seeks to restore the powers of state administrations to identify Backward Classes in their states and Union Territories.

The Bill was passed in the Lower House with support from 385 members. It did not receive any opposition.

Earlier, speaking in the Lok Sabha, Congress MP Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said that the Opposition would unanimously support the Bill, but demanded that the 50% cap on reservations also be relaxed in the backdrop of the move.

The Bill was introduced by Union Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment Dr Virendra Kumar on Monday.

The Opposition, after a meeting with Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge, on Monday, had pledged support to the Bill in the House.


What the Bill Aims to Do

The Bill aims to amend Article 342A, and hold that the President is mandated to specify the central list of Socially and Educationally Backward Communities (SEBCs) for the Union government.

The amendment also seeks to add Clause (3) to Article 342A, expounding that all states and Union Territories will be given the authority to establish their specific SEBCs list, which may differ from the list drawn up by the Centre.

Need for the Bill

While pronouncing the verdict for the Maratha reservation in Maharashtra, a Constitution bench of the Supreme Court had ruled that the states could not identify and specify SEBCs, following the 102nd Constitutional Amendment, and the authority to do the same was with the President of India.

The Attorney General for India had also contended that the power of President is only to identify SEBCs for the central list.

The demand for the states to have the power to make their own OBC lists has come up from a number of regional parties over the years. Many leaders, including from the BJP, have repeatedly raised the demand.

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