Thu, 19 May 2022

New Delhi [India], January 19 (ANI): The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed the Maharashtra government to submit data and information available with the State regarding Other Backward Classes (OBCs) to the Maharashtra State Backward Classes Commission (SBCC) in order to examine its correctness and make recommendations on their representation in elections for local bodies.

A Bench of Justices AM Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari and CT Ravikumar asked the SBCC to submit an interim report to the authorities concerned in two weeks of receiving information from the state government.

The order of the apex court came on an application of the Maharashtra government urging the court to permit the local body election on the basis of information and data already available with the State concerning the OBC.

In its order, the Bench stated, "Instead of examining the correctness of the data furnished along with the application, appropriate course for the state is to produce the data and further information before state-appointed dedicated commission who in turn can examine the correctness and if deem it appropriate to make a recommendation to the state on the basis of which further steps can be taken by the commission as the case may be."It clarified that the list to be prepared by the state government concerning socially and educationally backward classes would be independent of the census carried out by the Centre.

It said, "This obviously would not complete the triple test exercise which has to be completed (as per 2010 judgement) before providing reservation of seats in local government for OBC category."During the hearing, senior advocate Shekhar Naphade, appearing for Maharashtra, told the Bench that the state has some data on the basis of which reservation can be sustained.

He submitted that there are elections in March and data is already before the commission and the court may tell the commission to submit a report in two weeks so the government can act on the election in March otherwise a large section of the community might go unrepresented.

On December 15, 2021, the top court had directed the Maharashtra State Election Commission to de-notify the 27 per cent seats reserved for OBC and re-issue them under the general category for the local body elections.

It had asked State Election Commission to renotify the 27 per cent OBC constituencies as general seats for local body polls and resume the election process along with the remaining 73 per cent.

On December 6, the Bench had stayed the 27 per cent reservation for the OBC in the local body elections of Maharashtra until further orders.

It had observed that 27 per cent of OBC Quota could not have been implemented without setting up a commission and without collecting data regarding the inadequacy of representation local government wise.

The petitions were filed in the apex court challenging the Maharashtra Ordinance which introduced a 27 per cent OBC quota in the State's local body elections and the consequent notifications issued by the State Election Commission to give effect to the same.

In September last year, the Maharashtra government had brought an ordinance to ensure reservation to OBC candidates of rural local body elections six months after the Supreme Court struck down the 27 per cent reservation available stating that it breached the cap mandated by the top court.

The government promulgated the Ordinance to amend the Maharashtra Zilla Parishads and Panchayat Samitis Act, 1961 and Maharashtra Village Panchayat Act for Zilla Parishads, Panchayat Samiti and Gram Panchayats.

On March 4, the apex court ruled that the reservation for OBC in local bodies should not result in exceeding the 50 per cent cap in reservation quota mandated by it.

The pleas contended that the Ordinances provide for 27 per cent reservation to the category of Backward Classes of citizens was contrary to the judgements of the top court. (ANI)

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