[Model Answer QP2022 GS2] Discuss the role of the National Commission for Backward Classes in the wake of its transformation from a statutory body to a constitutional body.

The objective of  National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) includes to safeguard the interests of the socially and educationally backward classes more effectively. 

Constitutional Provisions regarding NCBC

  1. Article 340 deals with the need to, inter alia, identify those “socially and educationally backward classes”, understand the conditions of their backwardness, and make recommendations to remove the difficulties they face.
  2. 102nd Constitution Amendment Act inserted new Articles 338 B and 342 A.
    1. The amendment also brings about changes in Article 366.
    2. Article 338B provides authority to NCBC to examine complaints and welfare measures regarding socially and educationally backward classes.
    3. Article 342A empowers the President to specify socially and educationally backward classes in various states and union territories. The president can do this in consultation with the Governor of the concerned State.

Powers and Functions of NCBC

  1. The commission investigates and monitors all matters relating to the safeguards provided for the socially and educationally backward classes under the Constitution or under any other law to evaluate the working of such safeguards.
  2. It participates and advises on the socio-economic development of the socially and educationally backward classes and to evaluate the progress of their development under the Union and any State.
  3. It presents to the President, annually and at such other times as the Commission may deem fit, reports upon the working of those safeguards. The President laid such reports before each House of Parliament.
  4. NCBC has to discharge such other functions in relation to the protection, welfare and development and advancement of the socially and educationally backward classes as the President may, subject to the provisions of any law made by Parliament, by rule specify.

How is the New Commission Different from its Previous Version?

  1. Article 342(A) introduces greater transparency as it is made mandatory to take the concurrence of Parliament for adding or deleting any community in the backward list.
  2. The new NCBC is entrusted with the additional function of grievance redress of backward classes.
  3. There are provisions in the act for development of Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEdBCs) and the new NCBC’s role in the development process, in addition to reservations.
  4. Apart from list-inclusion and reservation, it requires comprehensive and holistic development and advancement of each community towards equality in all parameters of development and welfare.

The new body is likely to be similar to the National Commission for Scheduled Castes under Article 338 and the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes under Article 338A which were introduced in the Constitution by way of two constitutional amendments in 1990 and 2003.

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