Special Provisions Relating to Certain Classes

Context

  • Constitution makes special provisions for the scheduled castes (SCs), the scheduled tribes (STs), the backward classes (BCs) and the Anglo-Indians.

  • Part XVI of the Constitution from Articles 330 to 342. They are related to the following:
    • Reservation in Legislatures
    • Special Representation in Legislatures
    • Reservation in Services and Posts
    • Educational Grants
    • Appointment of National Commissions
    • Appointment of Commissions of Investigation

Specification of Classes

  • The Constitution does not specify the castes or tribes which are to be called the SCs or the STs.
  • It leaves to the President the power to specify as to what castes or tribes in each state and union territory are to be treated as the SCs and STs. Special Provisions Relating to Certain Classes
  • Thus, the lists of the SCs or STs vary from state to state and union territory to union territory.
  • In case of the states, the President issues the notification after consulting the governor of the state concerned.
  • But, any inclusion or exclusion of any caste or tribe from Presidential notification can be done only by the Parliament and not by a subsequent Presidential notification.

Components of Special Provisions

  • Reservation for SCs and STs and Special Representation for Anglo-Indians in Legislatures: Seats are to be reserved for the SCs and STs in the Lok Sabha and the state legislative assemblies on the basis of population ratios. The President can nominate two members of the Anglo-Indian community to the Lok Sabha, if the community is not adequately represented. Similarly, the governor of a state can nominate one member of the Anglo-Indian community to the state legislative assembly, if the community is not adequately represented.
  • Claims of SCs and STs to Services and Posts: The claims of the SCs and STs are to be taken into consideration while making appointments to the public services of the Centre and the states, without sacrificing the efficiency of administration. However, the 82nd Amendment Act of 2000 provides for making of any provision in favour of the SCs and STs for relaxation in qualifying marks in any examination or lowering the standards of evaluation, for reservation in matters of promotion to the public services of the Centre and the states.
  • Special Provision in Services and Educational Grants for Anglo-Indians: Before independence, certain posts were reserved for the Anglo-Indians in the railway, customs, postal and telegraph services of the Union. Similarly, the Anglo-Indian educational institutions were given certain special grants by the Centre and the states. 
  • National Commissions for SCs and STs: The President should set up a National Commission for the SCs to investigate all matters relating to the constitutional safeguards for the SCs and to report to him (Article 338). Similarly, the President should also set up a National Commission for the STs to investigate all matters relating to the Constitutional safeguards for the STs and to report to him (Article 338-A). The 89th Amendment Act of 2003 bifurcated the combined commission into two separate bodies.
  • Control of the Union over the Administration of Scheduled Areas and the Welfare of STs: The President is required to appoint a commission to report on the administration of the scheduled areas and the welfare of the STs in the states. He can appoint such a commission at any time but compulsorily after ten years of the commencement of the Constitution. 
  • Appointment of a Commission to Investigate the Conditions of BCs: The President may appoint a commission to investigate the conditions of socially and educationally backward classes and to recommend the steps to improve their condition. 2nd Backward Classes Commission was appointed in 1979 with B.P. Mandal as chairman.

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