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Explain the recent Supreme Court verdict on the 102nd Constitutional Amendment with respect to recognizing ‘Socially and Educationally Backward’ Classes (SEBC). Will it deprive State governments of their power to identify SEBCs?

Topic: Structure, organization and functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary—Ministries and Departments of the Government; pressure groups and formal/informal associations and their role in the Polity.

1. Explain the recent Supreme Court verdict on the 102nd Constitutional Amendment with respect to recognizing ‘Socially and Educationally Backward’ Classes (SEBC). Will it deprive State governments of their power to identify SEBCs? (250 words)

Reference:  The Hindu

Why the question:

While holding the Maratha reservation unconstitutional, the Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court also dealt with the issue of the 102nd Constitution Amendment.

Key Demand of the question:

Discuss in what way the recent judgment of the apex court will deprive State governments of their power to identify SEBCs.

Directive:

Explain – Clarify the topic by giving a detailed account as to how and why it occurred, or what is the particular context. You must be defining key terms where ever appropriate, and substantiate with relevant associated facts.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Start with background of the question.

Body:

The Amendment established a National Commission for Backward Classes by adding Article 338B to the Constitution.

The five-member Commission was tasked with monitoring safeguards provided for socially and educationally backward classes (SEBCs), giving advice on their socio-economic development, inquiring into complaints and making recommendations, among other functions.

The constitutional bench has ruled that after the passage of the 102nd Constitution Amendment Act in 2018, the States do not have any power to identify ‘socially and educationally backward’ (SEBC) classes.

The Court interpreting the bare text of the Amendment has held that only the President can publish a list of backward classes in relation to each State and that only Parliament can make inclusions or exclusions in it.

Discuss its impact on the power of State governments.

Conclusion:

Conclude with way forward.

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