HomeCurrent AffairsOBC/EBC Reservation in Panchayati Raj: The Saga of Contradictions

OBC/EBC Reservation in Panchayati Raj: The Saga of Contradictions

After Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar now the High Courts of Uttar Pradesh put a stay on reservation for OBC/EBC in the urban local bodies’ elections. The judiciary directed that reservation for OBC/EBC in the election of local bodies is impossible without a triple test done by dedicated backward class commissions in the respective states. Meanwhile, Gandhinagar Municipal bodies went through the election in October 2022 with a 10 per cent OBC reservation but without any triple test or report of the dedicated backward class commission.

The UP government is yet to establish a ‘Dedicated Backward Class Commission’ in the state. Meanwhile, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar managed to conduct municipal elections in the state after submitting the report of the dedicated backward class commission with a triple test. But these developments in this regard are full of contradictions. 

List of Contradictions: 

  1. Why State Backward Commissions cannot prepare reports for OBC reservations in local bodies elections?
  2. Municipal election with OBC reservation was held in Gandhinagar (Gujarat) during October 2021 even though the SC verdict had already been announced on 4th March 2021. 
  3. Bihar also went through rural local bodies (Panchayat) elections in August-September 2021. 
  4. Madhya Pradesh government submitted its report within one day. 
  5. What a caste backwardness report means without a caste census?

In 2010 Supreme Court of India (SC) recommended the triple test for the first time. On 4th March 2021, the SC directed all the state governments that any state cannot give OBC/EBC reservation in the local bodies elections without doing a triple test by a dedicated backward class commission constituted by the respective state. 

This triple test includes

  1. The establishment of a ‘Dedicated Backward Class Commission’
  2. Suggesting required reservations for OBC/EBC
  3. All reservations including SC/ST and OBC should not exceed 50 per cent of all the seats. 

In the Indra Sawhney Vs Union of India case of 1992 Supreme Court directed the Indian government and all state governments to form a permanent ‘National Commission for Backward Classes’ and ‘State Commission for Backward Classes respectively. As of now, most of the state in India has already established permanent backwards-class commissions. This is difficult to understand why this state backward class commission cannot do the survey for the implementation of OBC reservation in local bodies elections.

Talies from States:

Even though the Gujarat government set up the dedicated backward class commission (Jhaveri Commission) in July 2022, Gandhinagar municipal bodies went to poll in October 2022. Apart from that, Gujarat also holds the Panchayat elections in December 2021. However, the commission has not yet submitted its report.

Bihar also completed the Panchayat election with EBC (Extremely Backward Classes) reservation in August-September 2021 without any triple test. In September 2022 Bihar government announced municipal elections across Bihar to be held on the 10th and 18th of October with 20 per cent reservation to EBC On the 4th of October, Patna High Court put a stay on the municipal election citing that the Bihar government failed to do the triple test required for the same. 

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Earlier Bhopal High Court gave a similar verdict for Madhya Pradesh on 10th May 2022. However, in this case within a day Madhya Pradesh Government submitted the report on 12th May 2022 and on 18th May High Court allowed MP government to hold municipal elections in the state. The verdict also mentions the question ‘on the validity and correctness of the stated report’ but refused to comment on that for the time being. 

Reservation & Backward Commissions:

This history of such cases of interference by the judiciary in the implementation of OBC reservation and formation of backward commissions is older than the concept of OBC reservation in India. After every single interference of the judiciary, the governments were compelled to form backward commissions to address the issue. 

There have been multiple National Backward Class Commissions and state Backward Class Commissions formed by most of the states in India. The first Backward Class Commission (Kaka Kalelkar) was formed in 1953 while 4 Backward Class Commissions were formed each by Karnatak and Haryana, 3 each by Gujarat and Andhara Pradesh, 2 by Tamil Nadu and 1 each by Maharashtra, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

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Every single commission formed either by the state governments or central government cited the lack of caste-based data as the greatest hurdle in preparing any report on caste backwardness. The latest is Rohini Commission, which was formed in 2017 but even after 13 extensions, could not submit its report citing the unavailability of caste data and the inability of the commission to conduct any survey on its own.  The only solution this issue could possibly have is to resume the caste-based census in India. The last caste census in India was held way back in 1931.

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Sweety Tindde
Sweety Tinddehttp://huntthehaunted.com
Sweety Tindde works with Azim Premji Foundation as a 'Resource Person' in Srinagar Garhwal.


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