The Supreme Court on Thursday warned the Maharashtra State Election Commission against re-notifying elections to 367 local bodies in the state where the poll process has already started, The Indian Express reported.

A bench comprising Justices AM Khanwilkar, AS Oka and JB Pardiwala said that violation of its July 20 order would invite contempt proceedings.

On July 20, the Supreme Court allowed 27% reservation for the Other Backward Classes in local body polls in Maharashtra. The decision was taken on the basis of a report submitted by a state-appointed commission.

The court had also directed the Maharashtra State Election Commission to notify the election schedule for the local body polls within two weeks. It had, however, made it clear that the new reservation policy will not apply to the 367 local bodies where the election process had already begun by then.

On Thursday, the Supreme Court was apprised of the State Election Commission’s proposal to announce a fresh election programme for the said 367 local bodies.

“We have very clearly said that no fresh notification can be issued,” Justice Khanwilkar said, according to Live Law. “If you [State Election Commission] are doing that we will have to say you are doing it mischievously. We were very clear that if the election programme has commenced we are not interdicting, you are free to change the dates of nomination, voting and counting.”

Justice Oka said that the State Election Commission wishes to add reservations for the Other Backward Classes for these 367 local bodies, which is not permissible.

“Now they want to add reservation of the [state-appointed] committee. That cannot be done,” he said.

27% OBC reservation

The July 20 order came after the Maharashtra government had moved the Supreme Court against its decision to put a stay on an Ordinance providing 27% reservation to Other Backward Classes in the local body polls. The court had also put on hold the elections to seats reserved for the Other Backward Classes.

The court had said that the decision to provide the quota was taken without the Supreme Court-mandated triple test.

In the first step of the triple test, a commission is formed to hold an empirical investigation into the nature and implication of backwardness in the local bodies of a state. During the second step, the panel recommends the proportion of reservations needed for the local body.

In the third step, it is ensured that the reservation does not exceed the aggregate 50% of the total seats kept aside jointly for the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes.

Following this court’s December 6 order, the state government set up a five-member commission in March to collate data for the quota. The commission submitted its report in June. The government then moved an application in the court seeking permission to implement the quota in the upcoming polls.