OBC Listing


    In News

    • Recently, Odisha Government introduced an OBC law to include castes in the State list by notification.


    • The State government has proposed an amendment in Section 9 of the Odisha State Commission of Backward Classes Act 1993, by inserting, “notwithstanding anything contained in sub-section (1), the State government, may, by notification, include such backward classes in the list, if the said backward classes have been specified in the Central list in relation to Odisha.”
      • This Law gives power to the State government to include any class of citizens as Backward Class in the State list if the said class has already been notified by the Government of India as OBC for the State of Odisha.

    Origin: OBCs in India

    • First defined in the 1980 Mandal Commission report, OBCs among Hindus were identified based on socio-educational field surveys, lists of OBCs notified by various State governments, the 1961 Census report, and extensive touring of the country. 
    • Among non-Hindus, the caste system was not found to be an inherent part of the religion. 
      • However, for equality, untouchables who converted from Hinduism and occupational communities known by their traditional hereditary jobs, such as the Gujjars, Dhobis, and Telis, were also identified as OBCs.


    • Even though there is one SC & ST list for reservation benefits, in the case of OBCs, States were empowered to maintain their own list of OBCs to provide necessary benefits. Thus, we have
      • Union OBC list for reservation in Central government jobs & Central Educational institutions
      • OBC lists at the State level (varies with each state) for reservation in State government jobs & State Educational institutions.
    • The Constitution (102nd Amendment) Act, 2018 granted constitutional status to the National Commission for Backward Castes (NCBC). It further inserted:
      • Article 338B, which deals with the structure, duties, and powers of the NCBC.
        • It was tasked with monitoring safeguards provided for socially and educationally backward classes, giving advice on their socio-economic development, inquiring into complaints and making recommendations, among other functions.
      • Article 342A, which deals with the powers of the President to notify a particular caste as an SEBC and the power of Parliament to change the list.

    Supreme Court’s observations and 127th Constitution Amendment Bill, 2021

    • The Supreme Court (in the Maratha Reservation case)  had ruled that only the Centre had the power to draw up the OBC list, as per the above interpretation of Constitution (102nd Amendment) Act (Article 342A only mentions President & Parliament with no reference to states)
    • To reverse the verdict and to restore the powers of the state governments to maintain state list of OBCs, Parliament passed 127th Constitution Amendment Bill, 2021
      • Amendment in Articles 366(26C) and 338B (9), after which states will be able to directly notify OBC and SEBCs without having to refer to the NCBC, and the “state list” was being taken out of the domain of the President and will be notified by the Assembly.

    Constitutional Provisions for OBC

    • Article 15 (5): This clause was added in the 93rd amendment in 2005 and allows the state to make special provisions for backward classes or SCs or STs for admissions in private educational institutions, aided or unaided.
    • Article 16(4): This clause allows the state to reserve vacancies in public service for any backward classes of the state that are not adequately represented in the public services.
    • Article 16 (4A): This allows the state to implement reservation in the matter of promotion for SCs and STs.
    • Article 16(4B): This allows the state to consider unfilled vacancies reserved for backward classes as a separate class of vacancies not subject to a limit of 50% reservation.
    • Article 340: This Article provides the president the power to  Appointment of a Commission to investigate the conditions of backward classes
    • Article 338B: This article provides constitutional status for  National Commission for Backward Classes.

    Source: TH