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Cabinet scraps NCBC, new panel for OBCs to have constitutional status; Opp'n cries foul

The Union Cabinet on Thursday gave the go ahead for setting up a National Commission for Socially and Educationally Backward Classes with constitutional status, bowing to the demand from OBCs for an entity for them which is on par with the panels for SCs and STs.

The Cabinet also cleared a proposal for dissolving the National Commission for Backward classes and repealing the law under which it was established. National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) was a statutory body under the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment established on 14 August, 1993.

It duties included receiving representations from the persons belonging to backward classes on various issues like discrimination faced by them, non-implementation of reservation rules by authorities etc.

 Cabinet scraps NCBC, new panel for OBCs to have constitutional status; Oppn cries foul

Representational image. CNN-News18

It was, however, not empowered to look into the grievances of people of Other Backward Classes. Under Article 338(5) read with Article 338(10) of the Constitution, National Commission for Scheduled Castes is the competent authority to look into all the grievances, rights and safeguards relating to Backward Classes.

The Bill to provide constitutional status to the body will be introduced in Parliament. The Commission will comprise a Chairperson, a Vice-Chairperson and three other members.

The Cabinet's decision followed demands for constitutional status for the National Commission for Backward Classes in order to allow it to hear the grievances of OBCs in the manner in which the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and National Commission for Scheduled Tribes do. The latter two are constitutional bodies and not a statutory entity like NCBC.

Meanwhile Opposition parties led by the Samajwadi Party on Friday forced a brief adjournment of proceedings in the Rajya Sabha alleging a move to disband the OBC Commission, a charge vehemently denied by the government.

SP members rushed into the Well of the House and shouted anti-government slogans, forcing Deputy Chairman PJ Kurien to adjourn the proceedings for 10 minutes.

Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment Thawar Chand Gehlot said Prime Minister Narenda Modi has repeatedly said that the constitutional position of reservation of SCs, STs and OBCs will continue.

"Since the time of Jan Sangh, we have been a supporter of reservation to these communities and will continue to be a supporter," he said.

The Government, he said, has taken a decision to give constitutional status to the commission for other backward classes (OBCs) and it will get the same rights as Commission for SC and STs.

Earlier when the House assembled, Ramgopal Yadav (SP) said the National Commission for Backward Classes, created in response to a Supreme Court ruling in 1992, has been disbanded instead of giving it the promised constitutional status.

This Commission is to be replaced by a National Commission for Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (NSEBC) and part of a larger "conspiracy" to do away with reservation to dalits, Yadav alleged.

The new commission will examine and recommend requests for inclusion and exclusion in the list of OBCs.

Without naming the RSS, he alleged that the move was guided by the philosophy of the ruling party's "fountain head" that reservation should end. "Backward classes feel cheated."

He alleged that backward communities like Yadavs, Kurmis, Lodhas and Kushwaha, who have made some social progress, were being removed from the OBC list. His assertion found support in rival BSP, as well as the Congress whose members too vehmently opposed move to disband the OBC Commission.

Rejecting the Minister's statement, Yadav said the OBC Commission has been disbanded and it is a conspiracy to end reservation. Soon thereafter, his party colleagues rushed into the Well raising slogans against the government. They found support in the BSP and Congress too.

Kurien said the minister has given "a very clear reply" and so there was no reason for the protests. "Your concern is very genuinue. I agree. (But) Minister has very categorically replied," he said.

As the protests continued, he said, "the minister said in Hindi. May be you don't understand (that). You haven't understood what Minister said." Gehlot repeated again that the Prime Minister has said several times that the government has been a supporter of reservation for SCs, STs and OBCs and will continue to remain. "A decision to provide constitutional status to the OBC commission has been taken," he said.

With inputs from PTI.

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Updated Date: Mar 24, 2017 21:48:44 IST