SC to hear Maharashtra’s plea seeking recall of order on OBC seats to be notified as general ones

The Supreme Court decided Monday to hear the Maharashtra government’s appeal against its December 15 ruling instructing the state poll commission to announce 27% of local body seats previously reserved for Other Backward Classes (OBCs) as general category seats.

A bench of justices A M Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheswari, and C T Ravikumar was informed by senior counsel Shekhar Naphade, appearing for the state government, that an electronic recall petition was filed on Monday.

Since the bench couldn’t find a new plea, the state’s attorney requested a hearing on Wednesday or Friday.

“The state’s attorney claims a new IA (interim application) has been filed to recall the December 15, 2021 order. Post the IA and related matters on Wednesday, January 19th “bench said

In the meanwhile, it directed the state to send a copy of the application to the poll panel.

On December 15, the Supreme Court directed the Maharashtra State Election Commission (SEC) to re-notify the 27% OBC seats as general category seats.

Previously, on December 6, the Supreme Court had postponed the Maharashtra local body polls designated for OBCs till further instructions, while allowing the remaining seats to go to polls.

To put it another way, the SEC must immediately issue a new notification for the 27% seats allocated for OBCs as general category seats and start the election process for these seats together with the other 73% seats in the affected local governments.

The bench said it could not accept the contention that the state authority or the SEC can notify seats for OBCs in any local body without complying with the triple test.

The court made the orders after hearing arguments, including one against the clauses incorporated or altered by an ordinance allowing up to 27% reservation for backward persons across Maharashtra.

The top court said the direction applied to by-elections to local bodies.

According to the order, any High Court petition on the subject will be forwarded to the Supreme Court, and any interim orders made in those proceedings will be amended.

On December 6, the Supreme Court noted that it had previously heard a similar argument and a three-judge bench had ruled that the triple test must be followed before providing such reservation for OBCs.

In March last year, the Supreme Court ruled that OBC reservation in Maharashtra’s local governments cannot exceed 50% of the total number of seats reserved for SCs, STs, and OBCs combined.

On the triple condition mentioned in the 2010 Constitution bench ruling, a specialised commission had to be established up to conduct a simultaneous rigorous empirical examination into the nature and implications of backwardness qua local entities in the state.

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