A petition challenging the zero representation of Scheduled Tribes in the UP Legislative Assembly on Tuesday left the Supreme Court in a delicate position as regards the fate of the fast-approaching state polls.
The writ petition filed by Virendra Pratap,a Gond Mahasabha member,said the total lack of representation for STs in the UP Assembly was in violation of a 2003 parliamentary enactment for proportional representation in all legislative assemblies.
With the elections scheduled from February 4 to 28,the Bench of Justices Altamas Kabir and S S Nijjar said any order passed by the court at this point would disturb the poll schedules. We are in a delicate position here, the Bench observed.
Even turning to the Centre,represented by Attorney General GE Vahanvati,for advice did not help,as he said the government cannot be expected to go against the legislative intent of the 2003 law,which calls for proportional representation of STs in assemblies.
The 2003 law saw 10 communities,earlier in the Scheduled Caste category,shifted to the STs list. With this,the law took the tally of ST communities from five to 15 in UP. The development saw the ST population in UP rise to 6.65 lakh from about 1 lakh.
This means that a 0.4 per cent of the population (16.67 crore) is ST,and this would translate to two of a total 403 seats in the UP Assembly, advocate PS Narasimha,appearing for Pratap,submitted. He argued how the Delimitation Commission,in a December 2005 order,disregarded the increased presence of STs in the state.
The Commission,Narasimha submitted,had explained its action saying their findings were based on the 2001 Census figures when the 10 communities were still identified as Scheduled Castes.
The court asked what was Pratap doing for the past six years since the Delimitation Commissions order in 2005. If my mathematics is correct,you have been asleep for six whole years. So why is it that you have come now… You want to stall the elections? Justice Kabir asked.
The next hearing in the case is on January 9. The UP government has also been made a party.