Will granting constitutional status to NCBC have significant impact on the socio-economic conditions of the OBC’s. Critically examine. (15 Marks)

Mentors Comment:

NCBC bill was recently passed in the Parliament, which gives constitutional status to NCBC. The related act assigns several functions/ duties to the Parliament. But there are also several issues associated with the body, which need to be discussed upon, along with its impact on the socio-economic conditions of the OBCs. That’s the theme of the question.

Directive word os critically examine which is an all-encompassing directive which mandates us to write in detail about the key demand of the question as well as providing both sides of the arguments and giving a balanced perspective or critique towards the end.

  • In introduction, write a few lines about the earlier NCBC and the role of NCSC in relation to the affairs of the backward classes.
  • In the main body, discuss the duties of NCBC with the amendments and how it will impact the socio-economic conditions of the OBCs. E.g (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, etc.
  • Then, discuss the issues associated with the bill. E.g reduced role of the states in determining the backward classes; reliance on caste as a determinant of backwardness which in itself is fraught with several problems; equates SCs/STs with backward classes etc.
  • In the conclusion, based on your discussion, form a way forward to make the institution serve the interests of the socio-economic conditions of the OBCs in a better way and than form fair and balanced conclusions on the given issue in the end.


Recently The Lok Sabha has passed the 123rd Constitutional Amendment Bill providing for a National Commission for Backward Classes as a constitutional body.

Key features of the bill

  • The Bill inserts Article 338 B in the Constitution.
  • It seeks to repeal the National Commission for Backward Classes Act, 1993.
  • It provides for a Commission for the socially and educationally backward classes with a Chairperson, Vice-Chairperson and three other members, all of whom shall be appointed by the President of India
  • It 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
  • The duties of the NCBC include investigating and monitoring how safeguards provided to the backward classes under the Constitution and other laws are being implemented and probe specific complaints regarding violation of right
  • Under this measure, the NCBC will have the powers of a civil court while probing any complaint

NCBC Act, 1993:

  • The NCBC is a body set up under the provisions of the National Commission for Backward Classes Act, 1993.
  • Under the provisions of this Act, the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) was constituted as a statutory body.
  • Currently, NCBC is responsible to look into the inclusion and exclusion of backward classes only.

How does making the NCBC a constitutional body will have a significant impact on the socio-economic conditions of the OBC’s?

  • Under the old NCBC Act, the Commission merely has the power to recommend inclusion or exclusion of communities in the OBC list.
  • The new Bill will allow it to look into all matters regarding the welfare and development of backward classes, as well as to investigate complaints.
  • Currently, the Scheduled Castes Commission, which looks into cases of atrocities against Dalits, is also in charge of hearing grievances from OBCs.
  • The amended Bill will give the Commission powers equivalent to that of a civil court.
  • To investigate any matter deeply, NCBC will have the power to “summon and enforce” the presence of any person from any part of India and also examine them. 
  • NCBC can also demand any document, receive evidence on affidavits, obtain any other records from the court or police and also issue a commission for the examination of witnesses and documents.
  • It is aimed at providing justice to the socially and educationally backward sections of the society. 
  • NCBC will address the concerns of the backward classes and bring social equality in society. 
  • NCBC would help the backward classes people fight atrocities against them and ensure quick justice to them. 

Concerns/Challenges in this regard:

  • Mere Acts will not do as they did not percolate down to the grassroots level, as recent data showed that only 7 out of 100 teachers in the Central Universities belonged to SC/ST and OBC categories. 
  • OBCs have negligible presence in the Supreme Court and high courts. 
  • Skewed representation of OBCs in various committees, commissions, boards and other different forums of the government. 
  • The recommendations of the commissions are not binding on the government. 
  • Critics argue about the scope of reservation at the time when NITI Aayog is promoting public-private partnership and privatization of public sector undertakings. 
  • The SC/ST commissions have had judicial powers all along. There is a provision that these commissions have to present annual reports to the parliament each year based on the action taken reports (ATR) submitted by each ministry on the recommendations previously made. 
  • But since hardly any ministry has submitted the ATR, the commissions have not presented their annual reports in the last 10 to 15 years. 
  • So, giving the constitutional status to the NCBC is fine but implementation will remain the key

Way Forward

While giving NCBC constitutional status is a step in the right direction, However, only by giving NCBC a constitutional status will not be enough to improve the socio-economic condition of the OBC community and along with this number of other steps are required which include  

  • Proper representation of backward classes of the deprived sections to join the national mainstream. 
  • The government must make public the findings of the caste census and implement reservation accordingly. 
  • The sub-categorization of OBCs will ensure increased access to benefits such as reservations in educational institutions and government jobs for less dominant OBCs. 
  • Political parties should “rise above vote bank politics and work towards social justice”.
  • Government should launch a separate skill development program for the OBC community. 
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