National Commission for Backward Classes
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National Commission for Backward Classes – Indian Polity Notes

The constitution of India, provides the state with responsibility to take affirmative action for socially and educationally backward classes( otherwise known as ‘Other Backward Classes’) along with SCs and STs under article 15(4) and 16(4). Though members of this class haven’t suffered from caste based discrimination like SCs and STs but were backward due to their social and educational status. The commission is envisaged to perform functions on lines of NCSC and NCST for these communities included in OBC list 

Formation of NCBC: An Outline.

During the hearing of Indra Sawhney vs Union of India Case 1992, Supreme Court while upholding caste as sole criteria for reservation, directed the Union Government to establish a body to address complaints regarding listing of the backward classes. Upon these directions, National Commission for Backward Classes Act, 1993 was enacted. Thereby creating a statutory body named: National Commission for Backward Classes.

It worked as statutory non-constitutional organisation till 2018. In 2018, under 102nd  Constitutional Amendment Act, it was granted upgraded to a constitutional body under Article 338B.

Under this act, purview of the commission was expanded in order to safeguard interests of socially and educationally backward classes.


The commission comprises of the Chairperson, Vice Chairperson and three other members appointed by the President.

They hold office for tenure of 3 years and receive salary & allowances determined by the Parliament.

Members are not eligible for reappointment after serving 2 terms in the commission.

Constitutional Provisions: 

The 102nd Constitutional Amendment Act, inserted Article 338B and 342A in Part XVI.


According to Article 338B Clause 5, functions/duties of the commission are:

  • To investigate and monitor all matters relating to constitutional and other legal safeguards for socially and educationally backward classes and to evaluate their working.
  • To inquire into specific complaints with respect to the deprivation of rights and safeguards to the socially and educationally backward classes.
  • To participate and advise on the planning process of socioeconomic development of the socially and educationally backward classes and to evaluate the progress of their development under the Union or a State. 
  • To present to the President, annually and at such other times as it may deem fit, reports upon the working of those safeguards.
  • To make recommendations as to the measures that should be taken by the Union or State for effective implementation of those safeguards and other measures for protection, welfare and socioeconomic development of the socially and educationally backward classes.
  • To discharge such other functions in relation to the protection, welfare and development and advancement of the socially and educationally backward classes as the President may specify.


While investigating the matters referred to in sub-clause (a) of Article 338B to inquire into any complaint referred to in sub-clause (b) of clause 5, the Commission have all the powers of a Civil Court trying a suit and in particular in respect of the following matters:

  1. Summoning and enforcing the attendance of any person from any part of India and examining him on oath;
  2. Requiring the discovery and production of any documents; 
  3. Receiving evidence on affidavits;
  4. Requisitioning any public record or copy thereof from any court or office;


The commission submits the Annual Report to the President. The commission can submit a report as when it seems fit. The President lays down the reports in both houses of parliament. In addition of reports memorandum explaining actions taken based on recommendations of commission is submitted.

Being an constitutional body, it also performs quasi-judicial functions. It’s recommendations cannot be denied by the Government unless there exists a substantial reasons.


  • Amendment Act conferring constitutional status and widening powers of commission is denotes that the socially and educationally backward classes i.e. OBC needs developmental assistance.
  • The commission will address the grievances of the community.


  • Features of expert body as recommended by the Supreme Court were neither incorporated in the 1993 Act or in 102nd Amendment Act.
  • It’s recommendations are advisory in nature. Even in case of non-implementation of recommendations commission have no power to enforce it.
  • Social and Educational Backward is not clearly defined.
  • Despite of being a constitutional body, NCBC doesn’t have independence in budgetary matter, it has to depend upon Union Ministry of Social Justice.

Way Forward:

  • Feature of expert body as recommended by Supreme Court shall be incorporated as powers of commission.
  • Commission shall be given power wherein in certain cases, it will have power to penalize erring officials who don’t enforce recommendations of the commission.
  • It shall be given adequate independence on lines of other constitutional bodies like Election Commission, UPSC etc.


To complete UPSC Polity Notes, Click Here

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