Maharashtra Challenges Top Court s Hold On Local Body Polls regarding OBC Quota

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The Government of Maharashtra has approached the Apex court seeking a recall of the
court's December 15 order that stayed 27 per cent reservation for Other Backward Classes,
or OBC, in local body elections.
The Apex court had directed the State Election Commission to revert the 27 per cent
reservation for OBC back to "general category".
While rejecting the quota, the Supreme Court had said the state government did not fulfil
mandatory criteria of the "triple tests" before providing such reservation.
A three-judge bench headed by justice AM Khanwilkar agreed to hear the matter and
directed the state government to supply to the state election commission (SEC) a copy of the
application, which claimed that its order to notify the reserved seats under the general
category was against the constitutional scheme.
When the matter was called for hearing, Senior Advocate Shekhar Naphade for the State of
Maharashtra submitted before the bench; that the State had filed an application seeking
recall of Top Court's order dated December 15, 2021.
Earlier last year, the Supreme Court had said that reservation in favour of OBCs in local
bodies in Maharashtra cannot exceed a total of 50 per cent of all seats reserved for
Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and OBCs taken together.
In its application filed electronically through advocate Sachin Patil, the state government
pointed out that elections to 34 out of 37 zilla parishads, 313 out of 351 panchayat samitis
and 9,000 village panchayats are due up to March this year. “The OBC candidates will not
get representation in the local bodies in the state for the next five years,” it said. The state
also suggested the appointment of administrators till the elections to these seats are held.
On December 15, the Supreme Court had directed the state poll panel to notify 27 per cent
seats in the local bodies, which were earlier reserved for OBCs, as general category seats.
Prior to this, on December 6, the apex court had stayed the local body polls in Maharashtra
on the seats reserved for the OBCs till further orders and made it clear that the poll process
for the other seats would continue.
"Without setting up the Commission and collating contemporaneous empirical data to
ascertain the extent of reservation required to be provided local body-wise, it is not open for
the State Election Commission to provide reservation for OBC category despite the statutory
provision in that regard," it said in its order.
The bench finally said it was not possible to countenance the arguments that without
complying with the triple test, which is required to be followed before provisioning such
reservation for the OBC category, SEC can be allowed to notify polls to reserved seats for
any local body.