Odisha passes Bill capping reservation of seats at 50%

Amendments pave way for elections to urban local bodies and panchayati raj institutions

Published - September 08, 2021 01:00 am IST - Bhubaneswar

The Odisha Assembly on Tuesday passed the Odisha Municipal Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021, to cap reservation at 50%, a move that has paved the way for conducting elections to urban local bodies in the State.

The Naveen Patnaik Government had introduced the Bill with amendments proposed in the Odisha Municipal Act, 1950, and the Odisha Municipal Corporation Act, 2003, on Monday.

The Odisha Panchayat Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021, which seeks amendment to the Odisha Grama Panchayats Act, 1964; Odisha Panchayat Samiti Act, 1959 and Odisha Zilla Parishad Act, 1991 was also introduced in the House on Tuesday.

While elections to urban local bodies are long overdue, the tenure of the present three-tier panchayati raj institutions is coming to an end early next year. Due to the confusion over reservation, the government had not been able to conduct elections to urban local bodies, which are currently being governed by bureaucrats. The Opposition parties had been demanding immediate election to the local bodies.

In 2013, the Orissa High Court passed a order stating that the upper ceiling limit of reservation of seats for the SC, ST and Backward Classes shouldn’t exceed 50% in accordance with the judgment passed by the Supreme Court in the K. Krishna Murthy case.

The State Government had moved the Supreme Court through a special leave petition and, subsequently, through a review petition challenging the order of capping reservation at 50%. The Supreme Court had, however, upheld the decision of the Orissa High Court.

Law Minister Pratap Jena said the government was left with no other option, but to amend the relevant provisions of the Odisha Municipal Act, 1950, and the Odisha Municipal Corporation Act, 2003.

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