The Other Backward Classes – Need of Reservation (Rural Development)

The Other Backward Classes ( हिंदी में पढ़ने के लिए यहां क्लिक करें )

The Second Backward Classes Commission (commonly known as Mandal Commission), constituted under Article 340, submitted its Report in 1980. In the light of this report, the Government of India had, vide order dated 13.08.1990 of the Department of Personnel & Training, issued an order providing 27% reservation in Central Government posts for persons belonging to the Socially and Economically Backward Classes, [also referred to as “Other Backward Classes” or OBCs].

Several writ petitions were filed in the Supreme Court challenging this Order. These were disposed of by the Supreme Court in 1992, by a majority judgment, which is commonly known as the judgment in the Indra Sawhney case. In this judgment, the Court upheld 27% reservation for OBCs in civil posts and services under the Union of India, subject to exclusion of the “Creamy Layer”.

The Government of India vided the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pension (Department of Personnel and Training) OM No. 36012/22/93-Estt. (SCT), dated 8th September 1993 has reserved 27% of vacancies in Civil Posts and Services under the Central Government, to be filled through direct recruitment in favor of the Other Backward Classes (OBCs).

 With the amendment of Article 15 of the Constitution in January 2006 and the enactment of the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Admissions) Act in January 2007, the listing of backward classes has become relevant for admission in Central Educational Institutions also. Under this Act, OBC students are entitled to 27% reservation in Central Educational Institutions in a phased manner, over a period of three years commencing from the academic session 2008-09.

In August 1993, The National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) was set up as per the provision of the National Commission for Backward Classes Act, 1993.

 In pursuance of the Supreme Court’s Judgment in Indra Sawhney Vs Union of India and Others, the Department of Personnel & Training vides its O.M. dated 08.09.1993 inter alia, directed that “The OBCs would comprise, in the first phase, the castes and communities which are common to both lists (i.e. in the report of Mandal Commission and the State Government’s lists). A list of such castes and communities is being issued separately by the Ministry of Welfare”. Accordingly, the Central List of OBCs was issued vide Resolution dated 10.09.1993 of the then Ministry of Welfare in respect of 14 States. Lists for another 7 States and 4 UTs were issued by the then Ministry of Welfare vide Notifications dated 19.10.1994 and 24.05.1995 and 11.12.1997.

 Since the first notification of the Common list on 10.09.93 and constitution of the NCBC in August 1993, till date 2494 such entries (by way of castes, their synonyms, sub-castes, etc.) have been notified in the Central List of OBCs through 44 resolutions for 25 States and 6 Union Territories.

On the advice of the NCBC, the Central Government makes changes in the Central List of OBCs from time to time. The State-wise number of castes/ communities covered under the Central List of OBCs as on 31.12.2016 is at Annexure-5.1. After the 1931 census, the caste-wise census was discontinued.

Hence, census data is not available on the population of OBCs in the country. However, the Mandal Commission had estimated OBC 89 Chapter 5 90 Annual Report 2016-17 population at 52% of the total population while the National Sample Survey Organization, based on its 61st round survey (2004-05), has estimated it to be 41% as stated in its Report “Employment & Unemployment situation among Social Groups in India.” 

The Registrar General of India (RGI) is responsible for publishing the Socio-Economic Caste Census (2011) data to ascertain the caste-wise population. The final results of this Census are still awaited from RGI. During 2016-17, the Central List of the Other Backward Classes was notified on 11.08.2016 for the newly formed state of Telangana, which was the earlier part of the erstwhile state of Andhra Pradesh.

The Cabinet in its meeting held on 30.11.2016, approved the proposal regarding inclusion/amendments of 28 Castes/Communities in the Central List of OBCs in respect of eight States namely Assam, Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, and Uttarakhand. The notification in this regard has been issued on 07.12.2016. Statutory Framework  Relevant Constitutional Provisions.

Clause (4) of Article 15 of Constitution of India [“Prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth”] permits the State to make special provision for the advancement of “any socially and educationally backward classes of citizens” including in admission to educational institutions.

Article 16 (4) [“Equality of opportunity in matters of public employment”] permits the State to make provision for reservation in appointments for “any backward class of citizens…. .”

Article 340 of the Constitution provides “that the President may by order appoint a Commission to investigate the conditions of socially and educationally backward classes”. As it was not envisaged to set up an independent Commission to investigate complaints made by OBCs, the National Commission for Scheduled Castes has been entrusted to look into such complaints under Article 338 (10) of the Constitution.

Clause (1) of Article 38 of the Constitution makes it obligatory for the State to “strive to promote the welfare of the people by securing and protecting as effectively as it may a social order, in which justice, social, economic and political, shall inform all the institutions of the national life”.

Art. 46 enjoins upon the States to “promote with special care the educational and economic interests of the weaker sections”.

Clause (10) of Article 338 (National Commission for Scheduled Castes) mentions that for the purpose of that article, references to Scheduled Castes “shall be construed as including references to such other backward classes as the President may, on receipt of the report of a Commission appointed under clause (I) of article 340 by order specify and also to the Anglo-Indian community.”

Thus, the National Commission for Scheduled Castes is responsible for looking into the grievances of the Other Backward Classes (OBCs) also. National Commission for Backward Classes Act, 1993  In pursuance of the directions of the Supreme Court in Indra Sawhney Vs. UOI and Others case mentioned above, the Government of India enacted the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) Act, 1993 (Act No. 27 of 1993) dated 1.2.1993, for setting up a National Commission for Backward Classes.

Under Section 1 of the Act, the jurisdiction of the Act extends to the whole of India except the State of Jammu & Kashmir. Section 3 of the Act provides that the Commission shall consist of five members, namely, a Chairperson who is or has been a Judge of the Supreme Court or of a High Court; a social scientist, two persons, who have special knowledge in matters relating to backward classes; and a MemberSecretary who is or has been an officer of the Central Govt. in the rank of a Secretary to the Govt. of India.

Under Section 4 of the Act, every Member shall hold office for a term of three years from the date he/she assumes office. The functions of the Commission are laid down mainly in Section 9 and Section 11 of this Act.

Under Section 9 (1) of the Act, the Commission shall “examine requests for inclusion of any class of citizen as a backward class in such lists and hear complaints of over-inclusion or under-inclusion of any backward class in such lists and tender such advice to the Central Government as it deems appropriate”.

Section 9(2) of the Act states that the advice of the Commission shall ordinarily be binding upon the Central Government.

Creamy Layer:

As a Chairperson who is or has been a Judge of the Supreme Court or of a High Court; a social scientist, two persons, who have special knowledge in matters relating to backward classes; and a Member Secretary who is or has been an officer of the Central Govt. in the rank of a Secretary to the Govt. of India. Under Section 4 of the Act, every Member shall hold office for a term of three years from the date he/she assumes office. 

The functions of the Commission are laid down mainly in Section 9 and Section 11 of this Act. Under Section 9 (1) of the Act, the Commission shall “examine requests for inclusion of any class of citizen as a backward class in such lists and hear complaints of over-inclusion or under-inclusion of any backward class in such lists and tender such advice to the Central Government as it deems appropriate”.

Section 9(2) of the Act states that the advice of the Commission shall ordinarily be binding upon the Central Government. per annum. This was revised to Rs. 2.5 lakh per annum in 2004 which has further been again revised to Rs. 4.5 lakh per annum in October 2008, and to Rs. 6.0 lakh per annum in May 2013. (income is changed time to time by the government).

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