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SC blocks Maharashtra decision of OBC reservation in local polls

A bench, headed by Justice A.M. Khanwilkar, said the election should be conducted without the OBC reservation

Thursday March 3, 2022 8:10 PM, IANS

SC order on OBC Reservation

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday directed the Maharashtra government and the State Election Commission (SEC) not to act upon the interim report of Maharashtra State Backward Class Commission to reserve seats for Other Backward Classes (OBC) in the upcoming local bodies election.

A bench, headed by Justice A.M. Khanwilkar, said the election should be conducted without the OBC reservation.

It also pulled up the Commission over its report, and declined to accept its argument that there is sufficient data to reserve the seats.

The bench, also comprising Justice C.T. Ravikumar, said:

"Where is the logic? There is not even a single logic given."

As senior advocate Shekhar Naphade, representing the Maharashtra government, submitted that the Commission may be able to justify the recommendation to reserve the seats, the bench wondered did it rely on the same data, which looked contentious to the court earlier.


The top court said it cannot allow the Maharashtra government to move with such an interim report.

It declined to accept the Commission's recommendation to restore 27 per cent reservation for Other Backward Classes (OBC) in the local body elections, noting that the report did not comply with an earlier Supreme Court direction, under which the Commission was required to conduct research before proposing any suggestions.

The bench emphasised that the report filed by the Commission must stand the test of judicial scrutiny, and there should be more authentic data.

It said there is no date on the report and how could it know whether it was prepared with full understanding or not?

"If this is how a Commission will work, then we doubt the recommendations of the Commission."

Citing that report was not in compliance with its earlier order, the bench said:

"We direct all the concerned not to act upon the recommendation."

However, it permitted the Commission to continue with its exercise to study the empirical data local-body wise and submit its interim report.

In December last year, the top court stayed the implementation of the 27 per cent quota, as it did not comply with the triple test principle laid down by the apex court.

The Maharashtra government introduced the quota through an ordinance in 2021. The Commission was asked to prepare a report on OBC reservation in local body elections.

The top court directed the SEC to notify the election process for the gram panchayats in accordance with its orders passed in December 2021 and in January 2022, against the implementation of the OBC quota. It had earlier ordered that the seats reserved for OBCs now be notified as general category seats.

The top court made these observations while hearing an application moved by the Maharashtra government informing it about the Commission's report.

 

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