- The Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court hearing the challenge against Maratha Quota has issued notice in a writ petition challenging 102nd Constitutional Amendment.
- In Maratha Quota cases, one of the issues was whether the Constitution (102nd Amendment) Act, 2018 affects the competence of the State Legislature to declare a particular caste to be socially and educationally backward class.
- The 102nd amendment of 2018 deals with the constitutional status of the National Commission for Backward Classes.
- It was introduced in the Lok Sabha on 5 April 2017 as the Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-third Amendment) Bill, 2017.
- The Bill received assent from President Ram Nath Kovind on 11 August 2018.
National Commission For Backward Classes:
- The NCBC is a body set up under the National Commission for Backward Classes Act, 1993.
- It has the power to examine complaints regarding inclusion or exclusion of groups within the list of backward classes, and advise the central government in this regard.
Changes proposed by bill
- Constitutional Status: The Bill seeks to establish the NCBC under the Constitution.
- Authority: Bill provides it the authority to examine complaints and welfare measures regarding socially and educationally backward classes.
- Repeal of Act: 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.
- Specifying Backward classes: The 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:
- NCBC will comprise five members appointed by the President.
- Their tenure and conditions of service will also be decided by the President through rules.
- Investigating and monitoring how safeguards provided to the backward classes under the Constitution and other laws are being implemented.
- Inquiring into specific complaints regarding violation of rights, and
- 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.
- Annual Reports: 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: NCBC will have the powers of a civil court while investigating or inquiring into any complaints.
- These powers include:
- summoning people and examining them on oath,
- requiring production of any document or public record, and
- receiving evidence.
- The 102nd Constitutional Amendment Act inserted the articles 338 B and 342 A.
- It has brought about changes in Article 366.
- Article 338B deals with the structure, duties and powers of the National Commission of Backward Class.
- Article 342A (1): Empowers the President to notify, in consultation with the governor, for each state and Union Territory, the list of socially and educationally backward classes.
- Article 342A (2) : Vests in Parliament the authority to include groups in the Central list or exclude them from it.
Challenges in Maratha Quota Case:
- Competence of the State Legislature to declare a particular caste to be socially and educationally backward class being affected by Act (Article 342)
- 50% ceiling for “vertical quotas” set by the Supreme Court.