August 11, 2021 12:41:48 am
The Union government’s Bill to restore the power of states to make their own OBC lists is a corrective step, but a conclusion that the state would now have powers to bring in a Maratha quota is misleading as the 50 per cent ceiling on reservation remains, said OBC leaders and others familiar with the new legislation.
Lok Sabha on Tuesday passed the Constitution (127th Amendment) Bill, 2021, a day after it was introduced by Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Virendra Kumar.
On May 5, the Supreme Court had quashed the Maratha quota given in education and jobs and stated that the powers of the states in this respect were taken away by the Constitution’s 102nd amendment. The apex court later dismissed the Centre’s review plea of the May 5 order.
“While making the 102nd constitutional amendment, the Centre committed a mistake of taking away the powers of the states in identifying OBC categories. The Centre is just rectifying its mistake through the 127th constitutional amendment and not doing anything new. But as usual, the Centre is making an event out of it,” said Hari Narke, a scholar on OBC reservation.
Haribhau Rathod, former MP and senior OBC leader, expressed similar views. “States had the powers of enumerating their own list of OBCs from the day the Constitution came into force. In 2018, by the 102nd constitutional amendment, the Centre by mistake took away the powers of the states, which they are giving back to states now by rectifying their mistake,” said Rathod.
Narke, however, said the 127th amendment was a “political move” that would help the Centre put the ball in the state’s court on the Maratha quota issue. “The Centre is creating an impression that the state has powers to provide reservation. But it is not true as the state cannot breach the 50 per cent cap on the reservation,” said Narke. He said the Centre would need to relax the ceiling first.
Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Tuesday held a meeting with OBC leaders to discuss issues of the communities. The delegation demanded that the state conduct a caste-wise census on the lines of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.
“We have demanded data from the Centre and the issue is also being raised in Parliament. Besides, there is an option to make the data available through the dedicated commission set up by the state for OBCs,” said Chhagan Bhujbal, Food and Civil Supplies Minister.
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