Supreme Court asks Maharashtra to notify 27% OBC seats under general category for local body polls
On December 6, the court had put a hold on the elections to seats reserved for the Other Backward Classes.
The Supreme Court has directed the Maharashtra government and the state Election Commission to notify the 27% seats reserved for the Other Backward Classes as general seats in the local body elections, Live Law reported on Wednesday.
On December 6, the court had put a hold on the elections to seats reserved for the Other Backward Classes, saying that the decision to provide the quota was taken without the Supreme Court-mandated triple test, according to The Indian Express.
In the first step of the triple test, a dedicated commission is set up to hold an empirical investigation into the nature and implication of backwardness in the local bodies in a state, reported The Hindu. The second step considers the recommendations of the panel to specify the proportion of reservation needed for the local body, .
The third step ensures that the reservation does not go over the aggregate 50% of the total seats reserved jointly for the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes.
At present, the Supreme Court does not allow the reservation provided under different categories – in jobs or education – to cross 50% of the total seats or vacancies available.
At the hearing on December 6, the Supreme Court had said that though a panel had been set up on June 29, the exercise of collecting empirical data to substantiate the claim of reservation had not been completed.
At Wednesday’s hearing, the Supreme Court ordered the Maharashtra Election Commission to re-notify the 27% seats reserved for the Other Backward Classes under the general category and resume the election process, reported Live Law.
The court also said that the results for all the general seats, including the 27% that will now be re-notified, should be declared on the same day. The Maharashtra Election Commission should release the new notification within a day, the court said.
The bench of Justices AM Khanwilkar and CT Ravikumar rejected the Maharashtra government’s plea seeking to modify the December 6 order. The state government had sought that the elections should be stopped entirely.
It also sought three months’ time for the Maharashtra Election Commission to finish the data collection procedure required for the reservation under the Other Backward Classes category.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court on Wednesday also dismissed the state government’s petition seeking a direction to the Centre to disclose raw data related to the 2011 Socio Economic and Caste Census, reported Bar and Bench.
The Union government has not released the 2011 census data and cited errors in it. The court also noted the Centre’s submission that the information on the 2011 Socio Economic and Caste Census was not accurate or usable.
“We fail to understand how a mandamus [a type of writ petition] can be issued to the Centre to make available to the data to Maharashtra for reservation,” the court said, according to Bar and Bench. “Such direction will only create confusion. Thus we decline to use our writ jurisdiction in the case...”
The Maharashtra Legislative Assembly had in July passed a resolution to approach the Centre for the 2011 Census data so that the state Backward Class Commission could prepare an empirical data on the population under the Other Backward Classes.
In a judgement in 1992, the Supreme Court had capped reservations at 50%. However, several states have since passed laws to exceed the limit.
However, the Constitution Amendment Bill was passed unanimously in both Houses of Parliament during the Monsoon Session. The Bill effectively bypassed a judgement of the Supreme Court which, in May, allowed only the Centre to notify the list of OBCs in India.
During discussion on the Bill in Parliament, several Opposition leaders had pointed out that it would be rendered useless if the 50% quota limit was not removed. They also said demanded a caste census for ensuring proper allocation of the quota.