The Lok Sabha today passed a bill which, when it becomes law, will allow states and Union Territories to draw up their own list of other backward communities (OBCs). These lists can be different from the Central government’s. The constitution amendment bill was cleared with 385 votes for and none against it.
The passing of the bill comes amid murmurs from some states like Bihar of their own caste-based surveys, given the Central government’s stand that only Scheduled Castes and Tribes, none other, will be enumerated in Census 2021.
The Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-Seventh Amendment) Bill, 2021, passed today was brought in by the Union Cabinet to undo a categorical Supreme Court ruling in May that only the Central government can prepare an OBC list. The court’s stricture came during a hearing on the Maratha quota issue and cited a law passed in 2018.
“States have no power to add any caste to socially economically backward caste list due to the amendment made by Parliament,” the Supreme Court had observed back then.
Moving the bill today, Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Virendra Kumar described it as a historic legislation as 671 castes in the country would benefit from it.
The Shiv Sena today brought in an amendment to the bill in the Lok Sabha but it was defeated, with 305 voting against and only 71 for it.
The bill received support from the Opposition, despite the rivals targeting the Centre over a range of issues, including the farmers’ protest and the alleged Pegasus spyware scandal.
A constitution amendment bill requires two-thirds majority to be passed in Parliament.