Thursday, June 1, 2023

OBC reservation in UP municipal elections: Allahabad High Court reserves verdict

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The Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court has reserved its decision regarding the OBC reservation in UP municipal elections.

The special bench of the High Court reserved the decision regarding the implementation of OBC reservation in Municipal Local Body Elections and now, the Court will pass its verdict on December 27. 

Today, the hearing started in the High Court and all the petitions are listed before the Division Bench of Justice Devendra Kumar Upadhyay and Justice Saurabh Lavania.

The Counsel for the petitioner prayed that a commission be formed for OBC reservation. On that basis, the reservation of other backward classes should be decided. Advocate PL Mishra was arguing. The Counsel read in detail the order of the Supreme Court in the Suresh Mahajan vs State of Madhya Pradesh 2021 case.

It was said in the petition that the Supreme Court had given a clear order in the decision in the Suresh Mahajan case that a triple test would be conducted before the Other Backward Classes (OBC) reservation in the municipal elections. If the condition of triple test is not fulfilled, then elections should be held by declaring all the seats other than Scheduled Castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST) as general seats.

Further it is prayed  to consider women’s reservation in reservation category. Whereas the counsel for the petitioner has kept women’s reservation out of 50% reservation. The government lawyer described women’s reservation as horizontal reservation. The government lawyer admitted that no commission has been formed for political reservation. The court considered political backward reservation and social backward reservation separately.

The UP government had said in its objection that this work would delay the election notification. 

The stay on the  notification of election dates will also remain in force till further order. 

During the previous hearing , the state government has said that the survey of Other Backward Classes (OBC) conducted in 2017 should be considered as the basis of reservation.Urban Development Department Secretary Ranjan Kumar has said in the affidavit that transgenders cannot be given reservation in elections.
The High Court had asked the state government under which provisions the administrators were appointed in the bodies.The government said that under the decision of the High Court of December 5, 2011, there is a provision
Issues of giving proper benefits of reservation to backward classes and rotation of seats have been raised in public interest litigations.  According to the PIL, the Triple Test Formula suggested by the Supreme Court was not considered in deciding the OBC reservation. The PIL alleged that under the decision of the Supreme Court, no reservation can be given to OBCs until the state government completes the formalities of the triple test.  Whereas without completing this formality, the government issued notification of provisional reservation.

The government lawyer opposed the petition arguing that the government’s notification of December 5 is just a draft order. Before determining the reservation of OBCs in municipal elections, a commission will be constituted, which will assess the nature of backwardness in the bodies. After this, it will propose reservation of seats for backward classes. In the second phase, the number of OBCs will be tested by the local bodies and in the third phase, verification will be done at the government level.

Ward-wise counting of OBC class is done by the municipal bodies under the supervision of the district administration in the rapid survey. On the basis of this, while determining the seats for OBCs, a proposal for reservation is prepared and sent to the government.On behalf of the government, it has been said to conduct elections considering the OBC reservation of 2017 as the basis.

Earlier, the state government had issued a provisional notification for reservation of seats for mayor and chairman in 760 municipal bodies in 762. These include 17 Municipal Corporations, 199 Nagar Palika Parishads and 544 Nagar Panchayats chairman seats. However, reservations have been fixed for all 762 municipal bodies. Eight seats of mayor including Lucknow, Kanpur and Ghaziabad have been kept unreserved. In 2017, all these three seats were reserved for women.

The UP government had said in its objection that this work would delay the election notification. It was also said that there is a draft notification of December 5, on which the unsatisfied parties can file objections. Dissatisfied with the argument of the state government, the High Court had stayed the election notification as well as the draft notification of December 5.

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