The Supreme Court stayed the local body election in seats reserved for Other Backward Class (OBC) in Maharashtra.
GS-II: Polity and Constitution (Historical Underpinnings of the Indian Constitution, Constitutional Provisions and Features), GS-II: Governance (Government Policies and Initiatives)
Dimensions of the Article:
- About OBC reservation in local bodies
- What is the history of the demand for an OBC census in Maharashtra?
- What do OBC leaders say now?
- About the SC Judgement on reservation in local bodies in Maharashtra
About OBC reservation in local bodies
- The Maharashtra government set up a 27 percent quota in local bodies for OBCs in 1994.
- The 27 percent reservation was applicable to all urban (Municipal Corporations, Councils and Nagar Panchayat) and rural bodies (Zilla Parishad, Panchayat Samiti and Gram Panchayat) across the state.
- In Maharashtra, the OBCs include the Denotified Tribes (Vimukta Jatis), Nomadic Tribes, Other Backward Classes and Special Backward Category.
- This quota for OBCs increased their representation in rural and urban local bodies.
What is the history of the demand for an OBC census in Maharashtra?
- As per the Mandal Commission report, the last caste-wise census was conducted in 1931 and it was later discontinued.
- Based on the data from the 1931 census, the Mandal commission worked out the OBC population to be 52 per cent and recommended a 27 per cent reservation for OBCs in view of the SC judgment limiting reservation up to 50 per cent.
- There was already a 22.5 per cent reservation for SC and ST categories.
- The Mandal Commission report recommended 27 per cent reservation in government jobs and promotions along with others.
- The report gave momentum to OBC leaders and the community’s demand for a caste-wise census of OBC.
What do OBC leaders say now?
- There has been a mixed response from the OBC leaders to the SC verdict, with some welcoming it while others lamenting on losing reservation.
- Some say it will pave the way for conducting the OBC census in the state.
- So far, there was no data about the OBC population and our demand for the OBC census for the last 30 years have fallen on deaf ears.
- With this SC order, the state has to conduct the census now.
- Else, there will be no OBC reservation in the local bodies polls and the ruling parties will have to pay a huge price for it.
About the SC Judgement on reservation in local bodies in Maharashtra
- The SC said that even in other future elections to Maharashtra’s local bodies, be it mid-term or general elections, the State Election Commission has to “desist from notifying reserved seats for OBC category” until further orders of the Supreme Court.
- The seemingly indefinite stay was ordered after the court came to know that the 27% reservation was introduced through the ordinance without any empirical data to substantiate the claim for or extent of reservation.
- The court said a “triple test” has to be followed before deciding on the extent of quota to a category:
- Firstly, a dedicated Commission needs to be set up to conduct contemporaneous rigorous empirical inquiry into the nature and implications of the backwardness as regards local bodies within the State;
- Secondly, there is a need to specify the proportion of reservation required to be provisioned local body-wise in light of recommendations of the Commission, so as not to fall foul of overbreadth; and
- Thirdly, reservation should not exceed aggregate of 50% of the total seats reserved in favour of SCs/STs/OBCs taken together.
- Though Maharashtra had set up a Commission in June 2021 to collect empirical data, the court noticed that the State did not wait for the panel to come up with a report.
- The court noted in its order that setting up the Commission and collating contemporaneous empirical data to ascertain the extent of reservation required to be provided local body-wise were both mandatory.
-Source: The Hindu