The Karnataka High Court has set aside a notification by the state government on reserving Bengaluru city wards for women and backward classes in the civic body elections, the Hindustan Times reported on Tuesday.
The state government had reserved 81 wards for backward classes and 120 wards for women.
The court said that the government reserved wards in an arbitrary and discriminatory manner. It observed that more seats fell under Assembly constituencies held by the Opposition than those under the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.
“The ratio of wards reserved for general [category] and women in constituencies held by the ruling party is 1:1.9, and in constituencies held by Opposition, the ratio is 1:2.6,” the High Court said, according to The Indian Express.
The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike has 243 wards. Out of these, 145 are located within the 15 Assembly constituencies held by the BJP, while 98 are in the 13 held by the Congress and Janata Dal (Secular).
According to the state government’s notification, 50 wards in the Assembly constituencies held by the BJP were to be reserved for women, as against 71 such wards in Opposition constituencies.
Justice Hemant Chandangoudar told the state government to redo the reservation of seats for women by allocating seats in descending order with respect to wards that have the highest percentages of the female population.
The court directed the Karnataka government to publish the final notification on reservation for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Other Backward Classes and women on or before November 30. The state election commission should complete the poll process within 30 days from the publication of the final notification, the judge said.
The state government had released the draft notification on August 3. Seventeen petitions were filed in court to challenge the document.
After the draft notification was released, the Congress had held a protest in front of the state secretariat. The party’s state chief DK Shivakumar had said that the allocation of reserved seats was “an effort to rob Congress leaders of the opportunity to win city council polls”, according to The Indian Express.
However, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai described the protests as a case of the pot calling the kettle black. “The Congress also did the same when they were in power,” he claimed. “They should introspect. We all know what happened in each constituency.”