Updated: January 20, 2022 3:35:52 am
After the Supreme Court hearing on the Other Backward Classes (OBC) reservation in local bodies, the Maharashtra government on Wednesday said the SC has given relief and a ray of hope for the restoration of the quota.
As per the SC order, the state will now request the Maharashtra State Commission for Backward Classes (MSCBC) to submit an interim report on government’s data on OBCs. The SC has directed the Maharashtra government to submit data on OBCs to MSCBC so that it can examine its correctness and make recommendations on the community’s representation in local bodies polls.
The order comes as a relief to the state government, as it had on December 15 asked the State Election Commission (SEC) to convert the OBC seats into general category seats in the ongoing and future elections. Elections to 14 municipal corporations and 26 zilla parishads in the state are likely to be held in the next few months.
NCP Minister and senior OBC leader Chhagan Bhujbal said, “We will provide all data available to MSCBC. We will request it to give us an interim report.”
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“The SC has sought a report on our data, which was submitted before it through MSCBC. The MSCBC will examine the data and give us a report, which will be submitted before the SC. Certainly, there is a ray of hope for us.”
Sources said the government data includes the various surveys conducted by the state rural development and urban development departments in local bodies on poverty alleviation, health and education sectors. The government is likely to refer to the data of previous backward classes commission and Census 2011 as well.
Sources in the SEC said the poll panel is likely to wait for the MSCBC report, which will be submitted before the SC on February 8. “As the SEC is a party to the petition in SC on OBC quota, we are aware of today’s SC’s order. We will wait for the outcome on February 8. However, at the same time, we have been conducting exercises related to the elections,” said an official.
Hari Narke, a former MSCBC member, said, “The results of the elections held without OBC reservation were announced today. Elections to multiple local bodies will be held soon. Though today’s SC decision is temporary, it has increased the possibility of restoring OBC reservation in upcoming local bodies polls.”
He added that the government should ensure proper coordination between MSCBC and SEC, which should work together to restore OBC quota.
In its order on March 4, last year, the SC, while reading down OBC reservation in local bodies, had asked the Maharashtra government to comply with three conditions – setting up a dedicated commission for collecting empirical data on the OBC population, specifying the proportion of reservation and ensuring that the cumulative share of reserved seats don’t breach 50 per cent of total seats.
Following this, the government had appointed a dedicated commission to collect empirical data of OBCs and also promulgated an ordinance to give up to 27 per cent reservation to the OBCs in local bodies without exceeding the 50 per cent ceiling. However, the SC had stayed it, saying it cannot be implemented without the empirical data.
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