Polity and Governance

National Commission for Backward Classes

National Commission for Backward Classes
•In August 2018, Parliament passed a bill to provide constitutional status to the National Commission for Backward Classes at par with the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) and the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes.
•The Bill needs to be get the approval of half of the States as per Article 368 plus State ratification.
Special Majority as per Article 368 plus State ratification
•This type of special majority is required when a constitutional amendment bill try to change the federal structure.
•Special majority as per article 368 plus state ratification requires a majority of 2/3rd members present and voting supported by more than 50% of the state legislatures by a simple majority.
•There is no limit within which the States should give their consent
The provisions of Constitution needing such process
•Election of President and its manner
•Extent of executive power of Union or State Government
•Matters relating to Supreme Court and High Courts
•Distribution of legislative powers between Centre and States
•Any of the lists in the Seventh Schedule
•Representation of states in Parliaments
•Power of Parliament to amend Constitution and its procedures (Article 368)
Role of National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC)
Earlier under the Constitution, NCSC had the power to look into complaints and welfare measures with regard to Scheduled Castes, backward classes and Anglo-Indians. 
•The Bill seeks to remove the power of the NCSC to examine matters related to backward classes.
Constitutional status to National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC)
•The NCBC is a body set up under the National Commission for Backward Classes Act, 1993. 
•It has the power to examine complaints regarding inclusion or exclusion of groups within the list of backward classes, and advise the central government in this regard. 
•Hence a Bill was introduced alongside the National Commission for Backward Classes (Repeal) Bill, 2017 that seeks to repeal the National Commission for Backward Classes Act, 1993.
•The Bill establishes the NCBC under the Constitution, and provide it the authority to examine complaints and welfare measures regarding socially and educationally backward classes.
Backward classes
•The Constitution Amendment Bill 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. 
•However, a law of Parliament will be required if the list of backward classes is to be amended.
•NCBC will comprise of five members appointed by the President.  Their tenure and conditions of service will also be decided by the President through rules.
Functions and Duties
•Investigating and monitoring how safeguards provided to the backward classes under the Constitution and other laws are being implemented,
•Inquiring into specific complaints regarding violation of rights, and
•Advising and making recommendations on socio-economic development of such classes. 
•The central and state governments will be required to consult with the NCBC on all major policy matters affecting the socially and educationally backward classes.
•The NCBC will be required to present annual reports to the President on working of the safeguards for backward classes.  These reports will be tabled in Parliament, and in the state legislative assemblies of the concerned states.
Powers of a civil court
•NCBC will have the powers of a civil court while investigating or inquiring into any complaints. 
•These powers include:
     (i) summoning people and examining them on oath,
     (ii) requiring production of any document or public record, and
     (iii) receiving evidence.

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