The Lok Sabha on 10 August 2021 passed a bill to restore the power of states and union territories to prepare and maintain their own list of socially and educationally backward classes (SEBCs). The Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-Seventh Amendment) Bill, 2021 was passed by the House with 385 members voting in its favour and none against in the final division.

What is the bill all about?

  1. In the statement of objects and reasons for passing the bill, the government has mentioned that the 102nd Constitution Amendment Act has inserted three new Articles342A, 366(26C) and 338B — in the Constitution.
  2. While Article 338B has constituted the National Commission for Backward Classes, Article 342A has dealt with the central list of the socially and educationally backward classes (OBCs) and Article 366 (26C) has defined the socially and educationally backward classes.
  3. The legislative intent at the time of passing of the Constitution (One Hundred and Second Amendment) Act, 2018 was that it deals with the central list of the socially and educationally backward classes (SEBCs).
  4. It recognises the fact that even prior to the declaration of the Central List of SEBCs in 1993, many States/Union territories are having their own State List/Union territory List of OBCs, the statement in the bill notes.
  5. The Supreme Court on 5 May 2021 also had a similar view. It had ruled that after the amendment, states do not have the power to identify SEBCs.
  6. The Centre had filed a review petition challenging the apex court ruling, which was dismissed by the latter. That’s why the Centre came out with the new bill to amend Article 342A.