Supreme Court stays HC order asking UP government to hold civic body polls without OBC quota
Last month, the Allahabad High Court had annulled a December 5 notification issued by the state government announcing reservation for OBCs in the elections.
The Supreme Court on Wednesday stayed an order of the Allahabad High Court directing the Uttar Pradesh government to hold urban local body polls without providing reservation to members of the Other Backward Classes, PTI reported.
On December 27, the High Court had annulled a December 5 notification issued by the state government announcing reservation for OBCs in the elections. The court passed the order in response to a batch of petitions alleging that the quota had been announced without completing the Supreme Court-mandated triple test.
The three-fold test requires setting up a dedicated commission to examine backwardness in local bodies, determining the proportion of reservation based on the panel’s recommendations and not exceeding the overall 50% quota limit.
At Wednesday’s hearing, the Supreme Court allowed the the state government to appoint administrators for urban local bodies once the tenure of the elected representatives ends. It, however, said that the administrators cannot take major policy decisions.
A bench headed by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud also directed that a commission appointed by the state government should put forward its view on the quota by March 31.
On December 28, the state government appointed a five-member commission to carry out a survey of urban local bodies to assess the political backwardness of the community. Retired Allahabad High Court judge Ram Avtar Singh is heading the panel.
During the hearing, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the court that the commission has been given a time frame of six months, but it can be reduced to three months, Live Law reported. “Commission can do this exercise within three months without compromising the quality,” he said.
Chief Justice Chandrachud questioned whether there could be a “constitutional vacuum” in the urban local bodies for three months. In response, Mehta urged the court to allow one of the directions passed by the High Court on December 27.
The direction states that in cases where the term of a municipal body ends, a three-member committee headed by the district magistrate should carry out the work of the civic body. The committee should also include the executive officer or municipal commissioner and a district-level officer nominated by the district magistrate, the High Court had said.
The Supreme Court allowed this direction to remain in effect, with the condition that the commission does not take major policy decisions.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath welcomed the court’s decision. “The Uttar Pradesh government will co-operate in holding municipal elections after implementing the OBC quota within the time frame set by the honourable Supreme Court,” he said.