National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) was set up on 14 August 1993 under the National Commission for Backward Classes Act of 1993. Earlier, it was established as a Statutory Body under the provisions of the Act. But, in 2018, it was made as a Constitutional body by introducing Article 338-B in the Indian Constitution through the 102nd Constitutional Amendment Act of 2018 (123rd Constitutional Amendment Bill, 2017). The commission falls under the Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.
NCBC was an outcome of the famous “Indra Sawhney vs. Union of India” case of 1992. Earlier, two commissions were appointed under Kaka Kalelkar and B. P. Mandal respectively in 1953 and 1979.
Article 340 of the Constitution of India empowers the President to appoint the commission for investigating the conditions of backward classes. Under its provisions, President appointed the first backward classes commission under Kaka Kalelkar in 1953 and submitted its report in 1955. However, no action was taken on its recommendations, as they were considered too vague and impractical. Further, a sharp division occurred among the members on the criterion of backwardness.
In 1979, during the Morarji Desai Government, the President appointed the Second Backward classes commission under the chairmanship of B. P. Mandal. The commission submitted its report in 1980. However, its recommendations also remained unattended till 1990, when V. P. Singh Government declared the reservations of 27% for OBC’s in the government jobs.
In 1992, in the Indra Sawhney case (or Mandal case) judgment, the Supreme Court directed the Government of India to set up a permanent body to examine, entertain, and recommend the exclusion & inclusion of backward classes for their benefits and protection. Following these directions, the National Commission for Backward classes Act of 1993 was passed by the Indian Parliament to constitute the NCBC.
In 2017, to safeguard the interest of backward classes, the 123rd Constitutional Amendment bill 2017 was introduced in Parliament. In 2018, Parliament passed the bill as 102nd Constitutional Amendment Act of 2018, which conferred the Constitutional Status to the NCBC under Article 338-B. After passing the bill, the 1993 Act became irrelevant. Thus, NCBC ceased to be a statutory body and became a constitutional body. The 102nd Constitutional Amendment Act 2018 also inserts Article 342-A in the Indian Constitution, which empowers the President of India to specify the socially and educationally backward classes.
Structure of NCBC
- NCBC comprises a Chairperson, Vice-chairperson, and three other members.
- President of India appoints all the members of the commission by warrant under his hand and seal.
- President also determined the tenure of office and the service conditions of the members.
Functions of NCBC
- The Commission investigates and monitors all the matters regarding the proper working of the Constitutional and other legal safeguards provided to the socially and educationally backward classes.
- It participates and advises actively on the socio-economic development of the such backward classes. It also evaluates the progress of their development under the Union or State.
- The commission inquires into the specific complaints regarding the deprivation of rights & safeguards of socially and economically backward classes.
- It submitted the reports upon the working of those safeguards to the President, annually and at the time as it may deem fit.
- It also makes recommendations to the measures taken by the Union or a state for effective implementations of safeguards for the welfare and development of such classes.
- The commission discharge other such functions, which the President may specify for the protection, welfare, development, and advancement of such backward classes.
Powers of NCBC
National Commission for Backward Classes is empowered to regulate its own procedure. The Union and the State governments consult the commission on the major policy matters, which affect the socially & educationally backward classes. The recommendations of the commission are not binding on the government.
While investigating into any matters or enquiring about any complaint related to such backward classes, the commission has the powers of a civil court, which are as follow:
- Summoning any person from any part of the country and examining him on oath.
- Receiving evidence on affidavits.
- Requiring the discovery and production of any public record or documents. Requestioning the public record from any office or court.
- Issuing summons for the examination of documents and witnesses.
Role of the NCBC
NCBC submitted an annual report to the President of India, annually or when it thinks necessary. The President further places the report before both houses of the Parliament, along with a memorandum explaining the action taken on the commission’s recommendations. The memorandum also contains the reasons for the non-acceptance of any of the commission’s recommendations. If any report of the commission or any part of it pertains to the State government, the President forward such report to the State government concerned.
Benefits of the Commission
- Addressing the concerns of backward classes.
- Provide justice to social and educationally backward classes.
- Help the backward section of society to fight the atrocities against them.
- Bring social equality in society.