Pinnacle Court stays 27 percent OBC reservation regarding local body elections in Maharashtra

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The apex court  asked the State Election Commission (SEC) of Maharashtra not to implement its notification allowing 27 per cent reservation for the Other Backward Classes (OBCs) in local body elections until further orders. A bench of justices A.M. Khanwilkar and C.T. Ravikumar issued the stay order based on petitions filed against a Maharashtra government ordinance in this regard — introduced in September — and the consequent notification issued by the State Election Commission. The apex court said the election cannot proceed on the 27 per cent reserved seats for OBC candidates in the local body elections, LiveLaw reported. The bench, however, ordered that the rest of the election can proceed for other reserved seats, including the general category. “The election for the concerned local bodies in respect of reserved seats for backward classes shall remain till further orders,” the bench said. “SEC shall not notify reserved seats for OBCs for any election, either mid-term or any other general election, until further orders.” The order came on separate petitions by Kisanrao Kundalikrao Gawali, a former legislator in the state assembly, and Rahul Ramesh Wagh, a social worker. The requirement of collecting empirical data as a precondition for providing OBC reservation in Maharashtra’s local body elections was laid down by the Supreme Court on March 4. This judgment directed the state government to set up a dedicated commission to examine backwardness and extent of OBC population in each municipal council. The court said the OBC quota couldn’t be implemented without forming a commission. “Without setting up a commission to collect data local government wise, it is not open to the State Election Commission to provide for reservation of OBC category. That is the first step which ought to have been done,” the bench said in its order. The apex court observed that a similar issue had come up earlier before it and a three-judge bench had delivered judgement in which the court had noted the triple test to be followed before provisioning such reservation for the OBC category. It noted that this was a reiteration of the exposition of the constitution bench on the issue of quantum of the reservation to be provided for OBCs. "There were steps that were to be followed -constituting Commission, collection of data for municipal wise to provide reservation. Your political compulsions cannot be the basis to undo the judgement. You suffer the consequences. if you had constituted the Commission, you should have waited for the data to be submitted. We are holding the elections of the reserved category. We don't want to complicate the same", Justice Khanwilkar orally told the State's counsel.