So, the latest Amendment brought into the Indian Constitution is the 105th Amendment Act of 2021. It mainly focuses on restoring the authority of state government to identify Other Backward Classes (OBCs) that are socially and economically backward. The Act was passed on 18 August 2021. This blog covers the explanation of the 105th Amendment Act 2021, which will be informative for college students, judiciary aspirants as well as students preparing for competitive exams.
What is the 105th Amendment Act?
The Constitution (One Hundred and Fifth Amendment) Act, 2021, often known as the 105th Constitutional Amendment to the Indian Constitution, restored the authority of State governments to recognise socially and educationally backward classes (SEBCs). Communities for which the State in India may give "special provisions" or affirmative action are classified as SEBCs, which includes the categories generally referred to as Other Backward Classes (OBCs).
The Supreme Court ruled in May 2021 that the 102nd Constitutional Amendment, 2018, had removed the State governments' authority to recognise SEBCs. The States had used this authority for decades, and practically all regional and national parties called for an amendment to reinstate the authority. The Bill was introduced and approved by both Houses of Parliament in under three days in August 2021. On 18 August, the 105th Constitutional Amendment Act was signed into law by the president.
Key Highlights of the Amendment
- The 105th Amendment Act was brought through the 127th Constitutional Amendment Bill.
- In 2018, through the 102nd Amendment Act, 2018 National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) attained a constitutional status in which it was stated that the President and Central Govt. will maintain the list of Backward Classes by which states lose their power to maintain the same.
- In 2019, the Maharashtra govt. granted 16%reservation to the Maratha Quota, but the court invalidated this decision for two reasons; first, it crossed the reservation limit set in the landmark judgment of the Indira Sawhney case. The second reason stated by the SC was that according to the 102nd amendment, the power to provide reservation to OBC was taken away by the state
- Then, the 105th amendment was passed, restoring the state government's power to identify Socially and Economically Backward Classes.
- The 102nd Amendment inserted Article 338 B and Article 342 A, where Article 338B gave constitutional status to NCBC and Article 342A gave the Central govt the power to maintain the OBC list to the Central Government.
- The 105th Amendment amended these articles and added Article 366 (26C), which defined Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC).
The Maratha Quota case
The Supreme Court issued its ruling in Jaishri Laxmanrao Patil v. Chief Minister, Maharashtra, in May 2021. The Maharashtra State Assembly enacted a law in November 2018 that designated Marathas as SEBC and granted them higher education and public employment preferences. The statute was contested, among other things, because the 102nd Constitutional Amendment removed the state's authority to recognise SEBCs.
The Court concurred and overturned the rule by a 3:2 ratio. The majority holds that the Constitution's text should be used as the main guide for interpretation. Consequently, the literal interpretation of the amended Constitution was used even though parliamentary records showed no intention to remove the States' authority to recognise SEBCs.
The political community was shocked by the verdict. Many national and state parties favoured the restoration of state authority. Since numerous communities would lose their SEBC status due to this verdict, the Union government quickly requested that the Court reconsider its ruling. On 28 June, the Court issued an order dismissing the petition for review. The 127th Constitutional Amendment Bill, which would subsequently become the 105th Constitutional Amendment Act, was introduced by the Union government in August.
Importance of the 105th Constitutional Amendment Act
- The Bill attempts to give State governments its former authority to recognise OBCs who are socially and educationally backwards.
- According to the Union government, the 105 Constitutional Amendment Act's goal is to establish a Central List that the Central Government and its institutions will only use.
- Nothing to do with the State Lists of Retarded Classes or the authority of the State governments to declare a community Retarded.
- Around 671 OBC communities will gain from the bill since they would not have had access to reservations in places of business and educational institutions if the state list had been abolished.
- The social empowerment promoted by this bill.
- Additionally, it demonstrates our government's dedication to ensuring underprivileged groups' fairness, opportunity, and dignity.
Impact of the 105th Amendment
- By changing clauses 1 and 2 of Article 342A and adding clause 3, the 105 Constitutional Amendment Act addressed the problem. Additionally, it changed Articles 366 and 338B.
- The statute gave state governments again the authority to alert socially and educationally disadvantaged groups.
- The constitutional reservation clause has been debated for many years.
- We as a society continue to work toward ensuring equal rights for all members of our population and eradicating prejudice and discrimination via reservation, even after many years of independence.
- Another effort to establish federal equality and a more egalitarian society is the 105 Constitutional Amendment Act.
- It has ensured that States regain their authority to compile a list of socially and educationally backward people.