Reservation : 102nd Amendment Act, 2018 – UPSC GS2

The Supreme Court of India has upheld the constitutional validity of the Constitution 102nd Amendment Act, 2018.
About 102nd Amendment Act, 2018:
  • The 102nd Constitutional Amendment Act, 2018 gave constitutional status to the National Backward Classes Commission.
  • The Amendment also gives the President powers to notify backward classes.
  • However, several states have raised questions on the interpretation of this Amendment and argued that it curtails their powers.
Supreme Court Judgement:
  • The Supreme Court unanimously upheld the constitutional validity of the 102nd Amendment Act, 2018.
  • However, the judges differed on whether it affected the power of States to identify socially and educationally backward classes(SEBC).
  • By 3:2 majority, the court held that the 102nd Constitution Amendment has abrogated the power of states to identify Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBCs).
  • Court has said that the Central List will now be the “only list” for the SEBC.
  • This means that the Centre alone is empowered to identify SEBC and include them in the Central List under Article 342A(1) for claiming reservation benefits.
  • The States could only make suggestions to the President or the statutory commissions for inclusion, exclusion, or modification of castes and communities to be included in the SEBC List.
  • Once published under Article 342A (1), the list can only be amended through a law enacted by Parliament.
Identification of SEBC:
  • In the task of identification of SEBCs, the President shall be guided by the National Commission for Backward Classes(NCBC) set up under Article 338B.
  • If the commission prepares a report concerning matters of identification, such a report has to be shared with the State government. However, the final decision lies with the President (i.e. the Central Government under Article 342A(1).
  • Further, the states will continue to enjoy the power to make reservations in favor of particular communities or castes, within the ambit of Articles 15 and 16.
  • They can decide on the quantum of reservations, the nature of benefits, and the kind of reservations – except with respect to the identification of SEBCs.
How does this judgement impact interventions by states to provide reservations for other communities?
  • The National Backward Classes Commission(NCBC) set up under Article 338B must publish a fresh list of SEBCs both for states and the central list.
  • Till the publication of such a list, the existing lists operating in all states and union territories continue to operate. This direction was issued under Article 142 of the Constitution of India.

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