Maharashtra govt urges SC to recall its order to re-notify OBC reservation in local body polls

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Maharashtra govt urges SC to recall its order to re-notify OBC reservation in local body polls
© Provided by The Times of India

MUMBAI: Maharashtra government on Monday approached the Supreme Court seeking a recall of its December 15 order that directed re-notification of 27% reservation for the Other Backward Classes (OBC) in the state’s local body elections.

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Senior counsel for the state, Shekhar Naphade, mentioned the matter and Maharashtra’s standing counsel Rahul Chitnis asked for some time to make the application available. The SC bench, headed by Justice A M Khanwilkar, said it would hear Maharashtra’s application with all other petitions in the matter, on Wednesday.

The central and Madhya Pradesh governments had filed similar applications last month, seeking recall of the December 17 order of the Justice Khanwilkar bench. The Centre and MP government said that OBC reservation in panchayat and civic body elections are constitutionally mandated.

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The Maharashtra government’s application is on slightly different grounds as it is also submitting, in its plea, certain data on OBC.

Maharashtra application says the issue raised is “of great public importance and has a pan-India ramification on issue of implementation of OBC reservations in elections”. It says, “…upliftment of SC, ST and OBC has been the utmost priority of the State and any inadequate representation of OBCs in local self government defeats the very object, intent and purpose of the very idea of de-centralisation of power and taking governance to the grass root (sic) level.’’

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The SC had stayed elections to the OBC-quota seats, saying its earlier orders required a mandatory “triple test’’ to determine backwardness.

The Maharashtra application submits that 27% reservation is provided to the OBC, pursuant to Mandal Commission Report. The commission was established in 1979.

The application cited several reports, saying it has OBC percentages across zilla parishads.

It gave example of the district block and caste office enrolment of students who are not enrolled on Saral portal, which shows 17% are from the OBC category, 11% are from VJNT, 1% from SBC and less than 1% from socially and educationally backward classes (SEBC). “Therefore the total comes to 30.42%’’ for students from reserved category, the plea said, adding that the state also has socio-economic data compiled by Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics.

The Centre had requested the SC to consider striking a balance between compliance of the triple-test and the constitutional mandate.

Like the Centre, the state’s alternate plea is for appointment or continuation of administrator for local bodies till elections are held in accordance with the SC judgment in K Krishna Murthy vs Union of India in 2010 and V K Gawali vs State of Maharashtra in 2021.

The central government also sought suspension of the process of election as an interim measure and to defer the local body elections by four months. “Till such time the administrator can function,” said the Centre’s plea too, which the SC will now hear on Wednesday, along with the state’s application.

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