LS debates over restoring states' rights on OBC Bill

Lok Sabha debates on constitution amendment bill which seeks to restore states' rights on OBC Bill

The Constitutional amendment Bill requires a special majority for passage the two Houses of Parliament

A view of the Lok Sabha during the Monsoon Session of Parliament. Credit: PTI Photo

For the first time since the Monsoon Session of Parliament began on July 19, the Lok Sabha witnessed debate in an orderly manner on Tuesday as it took up a constitutional amendment bill which seeks to restore the states' power to make their own OBC lists.

Moving the Bill for consideration and passage, Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Virendra Kumar described 'The Constitution (127th Amendment) Bill, 2021' as a historic legislation as 671 castes in the country would benefit from it.

Kumar said the Bill will restore the states' rights to prepare their own lists of OBCs so that various communities can be given social and economic justice.

Also Read | BSP to support bill to enable states to make their own lists of OBCs: Mayawati

The minister said the Bill should be considered as the 105th Constitution Amendment Bill after being renumbered.

The 102nd Constitution Amendment Act of 2018 inserted articles 338B, which deals with the structure, duties and powers of the National Commission for Backward Classes, and 342A that deals with the powers of the president to notify a particular caste as an SEBC and the power of Parliament to change the list. Article 366 (26C) defines SEBCs.

The Supreme Court has dismissed the Centre's plea seeking a review of its May 5 majority verdict that held that the 102nd Constitution amendment took away the states' power to notify SEBCs for the grant of quota in jobs and admissions.

"If this Constitution Bill is not brought, 671 OBCs would not have got reservation. All of them will be benefited now," he said.

Initiating the debate, Congress leader in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury extended his party's wholehearted support to the Bill but criticised the government for the 2018 amendment saying had the government inserted the suggestion proposed by the Opposition, today's situation would not have arisen.

"You tweaked the Constitution by bringing the 102 Constitution Amendment Bill in 2018 which gave people opportunity to go to the court and finally the Supreme Court removed the states' power," he said.

Also Read | Bill to allow states to make OBC lists introduced in LS

Chowdhury also slammed the government for allegedly running away from debate on the issue of "snooping" through the Pegasus spyware, saying the country after country like Hungary, the US and Israel have ordered probe into the controversial issue.

The Constitutional amendment Bill requires a special majority for passage the two Houses of Parliament.

There should be a majority of the total membership of the House and by a majority of not less than two-thirds of the members of that House present and voting.

Earlier, the proceedings of the House was disrupted by opposition following protests over Pegasus and other issues.

When the House re-assembled at noon after one adjournment, the opposition again started protests.

The sloganeering and protests continued when papers related to different ministries were laid on the table of the House.

However, when Speaker Om Birla announced taking up this Bill for consideration, the opposition members went to their seats and participated in the proceedings.

Since the start of the Monsoon Session, parliamentary proceedings have been continuously witnessing disruptions due to protests by Opposition parties and a logjam has persisted over their demand for a discussion on the Pegasus snooping row and farmers' protests