Supreme Court allows 27% OBC reservation for Maharashtra in polls

A Bench headed by Justice A.M. Khanwilkar accepted the report by the five-member Banthia commission and allowed reservation for OBCs in the nagar panchayat, nagar parishad and Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation elections  

July 20, 2022 10:28 pm | Updated July 21, 2022 01:42 pm IST - Mumbai

A view of the Supreme Court in New Delhi. File

A view of the Supreme Court in New Delhi. File | Photo Credit: PTI

The Supreme Court on Wednesday allowed 27% reservation for Other Backward Classes (OBCs) in all the upcoming local body elections in Maharashtra.

A Bench headed by Justice A.M. Khanwilkar accepted the 781-page report of the commission led by former Chief Secretary Jayant Banthia and allowed reservation for OBCs in the nagar panchayat, nagar parishad and Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation elections.

Senior advocate Shekhar Naphade appearing for the government told The Hindu, “The commission was appointed in March this year. It conducted a door-to-door survey and found that some areas have less OBC population while some have more. But the triple test laid down by the Constitutional Bench of the SC has been strictly adhered to.” The court while accepting the commission’s report said reservation should be applied to all the upcoming elections.

In 1992, in one of its landmark judgments - Indra Sawhney vs Union of India - the SC had ruled that the 50% ceiling must not be breached for reservation in any State. In 2010, the SC had laid down the ‘triple test’ where an independent commission should be formed, empirical data collected and ensured that the number of quota seats don’t cross 50%.

On December 6, 2021, the SC had stayed the local body polls for OBC seats in Maharashtra. This was done as the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government was found in breach of the 50% ceiling rule.

Tweeting about the order by the top court, Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde said, “OBC community has been granted political reservation by the Hon’ble Supreme Court. We are the true Shiv soldiers of Shiv Sena chief Balasaheb Thackeray. Once a promise is made, it will be kept.”

Deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra Devendra Fadnavis hailed the decision and said, “Today the SC cleared reservation for OBCs. It is a big win. I had made a promise that reservation will be brought back once I am in the government and the SC has made it possible.”

Slamming the MVA, the BJP leader said, “The previous government did nothing to make this happen. Our Chief Minister and I sat with all the members of the commission and made it happen. As directed by the court, we submitted the report after collecting the empirical data.. The court accepted our report which followed the triple test and allowed the reservation.”

Mr Fadnavis, who held a press conference, said the Uddhav Thackeray-led government kept wasting time by waiting for data to be shared by the Central government and did not understand that no information was needed from the Centre and that empirical data had to be collected by State-run bodies.

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