From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Art. 340
Mains level : National Commission for Backward Classes and its mandate
The Union Cabinet has approved the extension of the term of the Commission to examine the issue of Sub-categorization of Other Backward Classes, by 6 months i.e. upto 31.1.2021.
Practice question for mains:
Q.The quota policy for OBCs needs a revisit. Comment.
About the commission
- The Commission was constituted under Article 340 of the Constitution in 2017 under the chairmanship of Justice (Retd.) Smt. G. Rohini.
- The Commission has since interacted with all the States/UTs which have subcategorized OBCs, and the State Backward Classes Commissions.
- The expenditure related to the establishment and administration costs of the Commission is borne by the Department of Social Justice and Empowerment.
- The Supreme Court in Indra Sawhney and others vs. Union of India case (1992) had observed that there is no constitutional or legal bar on states for categorizing OBCs as backward or more backward.
- It had also observed that it is not impermissible in law if a state chooses to do sub-categorization.
- So far, 9 states/UTs viz. Karnataka, Haryana, Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Puducherry, Telangana, West Bengal, Bihar, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu have carried out sub-categorization of OBCs.
- However, there was no subcategorization in the central list of OBCs so far.
Why need a sub-categorization?
- Presently, half of these 1,900-odd castes have availed less than three per cent of reservation in jobs and education, and the rest availed zero benefits during the last five years.
- Five-year data on OBC quota implementation in central jobs and higher educational institutions showed that a very small section has cornered the lion’s share.
- A/c to the Commission, the classification is based on relative benefits availed and not relative social backwardness, which involves parameters such as social status, traditional occupations, religion, etc.