<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Bill to grant Constitutional Status to the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC), when enacted, will not only make the NCBC a Constitutional body, but will also empower the NCBC to hear complaints of OBCs, protect their interests and safeguard their rights. The focus of the bill is to address social inequality and protect the rights of OBCs. The bill was approved by the Union Cabinet and passed by the Lok Sabha in the last monsoon session. In response to a persistent and long felt demand from all categories of Other Backward Classes, Centre, in the last Parliament Session, introduced a Bill to grant Constitutional status to the National Commission for Backward Classes, on par with the National Commissions for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.The National Commission for Backward Classes, a statutory body created in 1993, was given limited powers, only to recommend to the Government inclusion or exclusion of a community in the Central list of OBCs. The power to hear complaints of OBCs and protect their interests continued to be with the National Commission for Scheduled Castes. Since the National Commission for Scheduled Castes is dealing with grievances and safeguards of SCs as well as OBCs it has limited capacity to address the grievances of OBCs.During the same session, in the Rajya Sabha, while the proposal was generally supported and most members welcomed the grant of constitutional status to the NCBC, the proposed Constitutional Amendment Bill was passed with certain amendments.One amendment sought to increase the number of members of the proposed commission from three to five with reservation for a member of a minority community and another for women. Another amendment was about protecting the rights of states by making their recommendations binding.It was clarified by the Government that the proposed constitution of the NCBC and its powers and functions is on similar lines as the National Commissions of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, and there is no infringement of the rights of the states. The issue of ensuring diversity in the Commission is more appropriately addressed in the Rules. Therefore, the proposed amendments would only delay the process of passing the Bill.In spite of these clarifications, the amendments were passed, and granting of Constitutional status to the NCBC was delayed.The Bill will now have to be sent to the Lok Sabha again since the two houses have passed two different versions of the Bill.
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