ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Opportunity in a Crisis?

Political Reservation for OBCs

The reluctance of the ruling state government of Maharashtra to conduct an empirical inquiry into the backwardness and refusal of the union government to share the Socio Economic and Caste Census data of 2011 has resulted in a conundrum over the Other Backward Class es reservation in the local self-governance bodies. The responses of the ruling state government and the opposition to the retention of the OBC reservation are explored. The impact of this decision on the OBC politics is also analysed.

For the first time since 1994, the ele­ctions for the forthcoming Mumbai, Thane, Pimpri–Chinchwad, Nagpur, Nashik, and Aurangabad municipal corporations, touted as mini assembly elections will be held without the Other Backward Class­es (OBC) quota. This will also have an impact on the upcoming elections in 25 zilla parishads, 100 municipal councils, and 800 gram panchayats in Maharashtra. On 4 March 2021, the Supreme Court’s three-judge bench scrapped the reservation for the OBC,1 which provided more than 50% reservation in local bodies of Washim, Akola, Nagpur, and Bhandara districts of Maharashtra in Vikas Kishnarao Gawali v The Chief Minister and Ors (2021) (hereafter “Gawali”).

This verdict affected at least 56,000 OBC seats in 28,000 gram panchayats, 350 panchayat samitis, 367 municipal councils, 34 zilla parishads, and 27 municipal corporations across the state and it has been argued that the verdict will have an impact across the country. The Court observed that the reservation for OBCs was just a “statutory dispensation to be provided by the state legislations,” is different from the “constitutional” provisions that mandate reservation to the Scheduled Castes (SCs)/Scheduled Tribes (STs), the total reservation should not exceed the 50% cap, and it may be invoked only upon complying with three conditions before notifying the seats reserved for the OBC category in the concerned local bodies.2

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Updated On : 4th Apr, 2022
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