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The proposed amendment will “deprive” the state from making provisions for socially and educationally Backward Classes, says the West Bengal government 

West Bengal, Karnataka and Odisha are at loggerheads with the Centre over the Bill that strives to give constitutional status to the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) proclaiming that it will ‘take away the rights of States’.

Interestingly, the other states like CPM ruled Tripura and Kerala, AIADMK-ruled Tamil Nadu have proposed some changes in the Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-third Amendment) Bill but did not oppose it.

According to a report, the Trinamool Congress government in West Bengal has claimed in its submission that the proposed amendment will “deprive” the state from making provisions for socially and educationally Backward Classes (BCs) under Article 15 (4) of the Constitution of India. It said, the amendment appears to be “against the spirit of co-operative federalism” and “undermines the role of the state government and state commissions for backward classes”. It also said the proposed amendment would be a “hindrance” to the development of particular communities, who may have inadequate representation in the state and so the government is not in favour of adoption of the Bill.

Supporting the contention of the West Bengal, Odisha was of the view that the proposed amendment would “snatch away” the power of the state which also has a State Backward Classes Commission.

Denying the claims, the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment said that the new changes in the proposed Bill would not tinker with the powers of the State government to notify socially and educationally backward classes or undermine the federal structure or the role of States.

The Ministry insisted that none of the clauses in the proposed Bill would cause any hindrance to the State backward classes commissions making recommendations or the State government making any inclusion of caste/communities in the state list.

A few months back, the Central government had rolled out a notification stating that  as many as fifteen new castes, including Gadheri/itrafarosh in Bihar, Jhora in Jharkhand and Labana in Jammu and Kashmir, to be included in the Central list of Other Backward classes (OBCs). Notably the NCBC had recommended a total of 28 changes in respect of eight States.

NCBC was formed in the year 1993 after the Supreme Court in its judgment of Indra Sawhney & Ors. vs Union of India directed the State governments’ and Union Territories’ administrations to constitute a permanent body in the nature of a commission or tribunal for entertaining, examining and recommending upon requests for inclusion and complaints of over-inclusion and under-inclusion in the list of OBCs.

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