New Delhi: The Rohini Commission, set up in October 2017 to examine the sub-categorisation of Other Backward Classes (OBCs) and the equitable distribution of the benefits reserved for OBCs among these, will get a one-year extension to submit its report.
Speaking to ThePrint, R. Subrahmanyam, Secretary, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment (SJE), confirmed that the Rohini Commission’s term “will be extended by one year”.
The Commission was earlier granted an extension by the Union Cabinet in January 2021 and was asked to submit its report by 31 July. This is the eleventh extension for the commission, which was initially due to submit its report in March 2018.
The commission’s latest extension comes two weeks after the Supreme Court dismissed the central government’s review plea against the top court’s 5 May verdict that stated that the 102nd amendment to the Constitution takes away the states’ power to identify Socially and Economically Backward Classes (SEBC) in the region.
The 102nd amendment gives constitutional status to the National Commission for Backward Classes. It also inserted Article 338B in the Constitution, which deals with the structure, duties and powers of the commission, and Article 342A, which gives the President the power to notify a class as SEBC and the power of Parliament to alter the central SEBC list.
The court had held that the President should “expeditiously” publish a list of SEBCs for different states and UTs. However, the SJE Ministry had told ThePrint in May that the government is waiting for the Rohini Commission report to “notify central list of OBCs”.
At present, a reservation of 27 per cent is set aside for OBCs in government jobs and central government-funded educational institutes.
Mandate of the Commission
In a written reply in Lok Sabha in March 2018, then Minister of State SJE, Krishan Pal Gurjar, had said that the mandate of the commission includes, “to examine the extent of inequitable distribution of benefits of reservation among the castes or communities included in the broad category of Other Backward Classes, with reference to such classes included in the Central List; to work out the mechanism, criteria, norms and parameters in a scientific approach for sub-categorisation within such Other Backward Classes; to take up the exercise of identifying the respective castes or communities or sub-castes or synonyms in the Central List of Other Backward Classes and classifying them into their respective sub-categories.”
The four-member commission is headed by former Delhi High Court judge, Justice (Retd). G. Rohini, while the other members are Dr J.K. Bajaj, Director, Centre for Policy Studies, Gauri Basu, Director, Anthropological Survey of India, Kolkata (ex-officio Member), and Vivek Joshi, Registrar General and Census Commissioner, India (ex-officio Member).
According to Subrahmanyam, the present extension to the Commission has been granted on account of the Covid pandemic.
Earlier, ThePrint had also learnt from members of the Commission that it was in the process of finalising its recommendations in April but had received setbacks in its work due to the pandemic, especially the second Covid wave that hit the country in March-April.
A member of the commission, speaking on condition of anonymity had told ThePrint in April, “We wanted to take our recommendations to the states, hold meetings with them, but that couldn’t happen due to the pandemic.”
(Edited by Poulomi Banerjee)