OBC quota: SC asks MP poll body to notify order to conduct civic polls in 2 weeks

With the Supreme Court on Tuesday directing the states to follow the triple test it laid down in 2021 for reservation to Other Backward Classes (OBC) in local body elections, both the BJP and the Congress in Madhya Pradesh have supported the apex court’s decision ahead of the state Assembly polls scheduled in 2023.

The triple test involves the appointment of panels, gathering empirical data quantifying the extent and backwardness local body-wise, and ensuring the reservation does not exceed the 50 per cent ceiling.

The apex court in its judgement directed the Madhya Pradesh State Election Commission to issue a notification regarding panchayat elections within two weeks.

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan in his response said the state government will file a review petition against the SC order to hold panchayat elections as well as on OBC reservation.

“We are yet to study the judgement in detail but we will file a review petition hoping that the panchayat elections are held with OBC reservation,” Chouhan added while responding to mediapersons on Tuesday.

The Supreme Court’s order came in response to a petition regarding 23,000 unfilled panchayat seats in Madhya Pradesh. The seats remained vacant as the state could not fulfil the triple test.

Earlier in December 2021, the apex court had directed the Madhya Pradesh State Election Commission to re-notify OBC seats in local bodies as general seats and then conduct elections.

Both the BJP and the Congress levelled allegations against each other over the OBC reservation issue, however, both the parties had reached a unanimous consensus not to conduct polls without OBC reservation in the state.

A unanimous resolution in this regard was passed by the state Assembly in December 2021.

A bench of Justices A.M. Khanwilkar, A.S. Oka, and C.T. Ravikumar took serious exception to the vacant 321 urban bodies and nearly 23,260 panchayat seats in Madhya Pradesh.

The bench said such conduct is “bordering on the breakdown of the rule of law”.

The court directed the poll watchdog to notify the elections within two weeks.

It made it clear that neither delimitation nor triple test compliance can delay the filling up of the vacant seats.

The court said the seats must be represented by elected representatives after every five years as per the constitutional requirement.

The bench said the triple test formula laid down in a judgment in March 2021 will be applicable to elections on all local bodies across the country and is binding on all states and state Election Commissions.

Opposition Congress leader Arun Yadav said his party was apprehensive over the gross negligence of the BJP-led state government towards the OBCs.

He added that the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh Chief, Mohan Bhagwat has spoken about “ending reservation” and accused the state government of depriving OBCs of their due rights.

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