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'Without empirical data..': SC stays 27% OBC quota in Maha civic polls

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New Delhi | Tuesday, 2021 2:15:08 AM IST
The Supreme Court on Monday stayed the Maharashtra government's decision to grant 27 per cent reservation for Other Backward Classes, which was brought by an ordinance, in the local body elections until further orders.

A bench of Justices A.M. Khanwilkar and C.T. Ravikumar observed that 27 per cent OBC reservation could not be implemented without setting up a commission and also without collating data for inadequacy of representation in local government.

"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," said the bench, in its order.

It said the first step of collating empirical data has not been completed so far.

Senior advocate Shekhar Naphade, appearing for the Maharashtra government, argued that the provision inserted vide the impugned Ordinance is in conformity with the decision of the top court. He added that it is for providing reservation to the category of backward class citizens up to 27 per cent only.

In March this year, the apex court had struck down Maharashtra's move to introduce 27 per cent reservation for OBCs in zilla parishads and panchayat samitis. The top court had then said it was violative of the 50 per cent cap laid down in the top court's Indra Sawhney judgment.

The bench noted that the state government has constituted a commission vide notification dated June 29, 2021. "However, without waiting for its report and opinion, the state government hastened the process by issuing Ordinance which clearly impinges upon the legal position expounded by the Constitution Bench of this Court and restated in subsequent 3 Judges decision in Vikas Kishanrao Gawali (supra)," it said.

The top court further added: "As a result, the State Election Commission shall desist from proceeding with the Election Programme already notified in respect of reserved seats for 'OBC category only', in the concerned local bodies."

The bench said the election programme in respect of all the local bodies across the state in respect of reserved seats for category Other Backward Class, shall remain stayed until further orders. "Rest of the Election Programme(s) can proceed for other reserved seats (viz., other than OBC), including general seats," it said.

The bench added that the SEC should desist from notifying reserved seats for OBC category even in case of future elections to any local bodies - either mid-term or general elections, as the case may be, until further orders of the top court. The top court has listed the matter for further hearing on December 13.

The top court passed the order on pleas of two petitioners, Rahul Ramesh Wagh and Kisan Rao, challenging the Maharashtra government Ordinance which introduced 27 per cent OBC quota in the local body elections and the notifications issued by the State Election Commission to give it effect.

--IANS ss/vd

( 506 Words)

2021-12-06-20:08:59 (IANS)

 
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