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Supreme Court directs Maharashtra govt to submit data on OBCs to State Backward Class Commission

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The Supreme Court on Wednesday reprimanded the Maharashtra government for insisting on holding local body elections on the basis of information and data already available with it concerning the Other Backward Classes, rather than submitting the same with the Maharashtra State Backward Classes Commission.

A Bench of Justice A.M. Khanwilkar, Justice Dinesh Maheshwari and Justice C.T. Ravikumar passed the order on an interlocutory application filed by the state of Maharashtra, urging the Court to permit the election on the basis of information and data already available with the State concerning OBC.

The Court observed that the Commission, after receiving the information from the state government, may submit an interim report, if so advised, to the concerned authorities within two weeks.

It said that instead of examining the correctness of the data furnished along with the application, the state should produce the data and further information before the state-appointed commission, which in turn can examine the correctness and if it deems appropriate, may make recommendation on the basis of which, further steps can be taken by the committee as the case may be.

However, this would not complete the triple test exercise, which has to be completed in terms of Vikas Gavali before providing seats in the local government for OBC category,noted the Court.

The Bench further said that it was yet to make any final opinion regarding the correctness of data, as it was for the commission to examine the same.

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The application filed by Maharashtra government further sought recall of the order dated December 15, 2021, in which the Apex Court had directed the state government and the State Election Commission to notify the 27 percent reserved seats for the OBC in Maharashtra local body elections as general seats and take forward the election process.

The observations made in the order would also govern the dispensation in other states, which intend to proceed with the election of local government and providing reservation to OBC. The State Election Commission told the Court that based on the December 15 order, elections were held by converting OBC seats as general seats and results were to be notified tomorrow.

Senior Advocate Vikas Singh represented petitioner Rahul Ramesh Wagh, while Shekhar Naphade appeared for the state of Maharashtra, Ajit Kadethankar (for SEC) V Giri and P Wilson for the intervenors. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta and Additional Solicitor General KM Nataraj appeared for the Union government.

The Apex Court closed the hearing on the petition on panchayat elections in Madhya Pradesh since the ordinance issued by the state government has been withdrawn, and there is no justification for hearing the matter now.

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