The Centre has moved the Supreme Court seeking recall of its December 17 order directing the Madhya Pradesh State Election Commission (SEC) to stay the poll process on seats reserved for Other Backward Classes in the local body there and re-notify those seats for the general category.
In its application, the Centre has said that uplift of the Scheduled Castes, the Scheduled Tribes and the OBCs has been the utmost priority of the government and inadequate representation of OBCs in local self-government defeats the very object, intent and purpose of the very idea of the de-centralisation of power and taking governance to the grass-root level.
It has also urged the apex court to direct the local body elections to be deferred for four months with a mandate to the state government to come out with the report of the commission and direct the SEC to hold the elections accordingly. It has requested the top court to suspend the election process as an interim measure.
The Centre has also sought impleadment in the matter in which the apex court had passed the order on December 17. On December 17, the top court had referred to the constitution bench verdict of 2010 which had mentioned the triple condition, including setting up a dedicated commission to conduct a contemporaneous rigorous empirical inquiry into the nature and implications of the backwardness qua local bodies within the state, which is required to be followed before provisioning such reservation for the OBC category. It had also said that later, a three-judge bench had reiterated the same.
The issues raised in the present petition are of great public importance and has a pan India ramification on the issue of implementation of OBC reservations in the elections all throughout the country, the Centre has said in its application seeking impleadment in the matter. In its application seeking recall of the December 17 order, the government has said that inadequate representation or non-representation of the OBCs has a two fold adverse impact.
Firstly, the persons belonging to OBC category are deprived of an opportunity to be elected to the elected positions through democratic process and fulfil the aspirations of not only the residents of OBC community but everyone else which helps development of leadership quality in such communities, it said. Secondly, such inadequate representation or non-representation deprives the voters belonging to OBCs community to elect one amongst them to the elected offices, it said, adding that the same is strictly contrary to the object, intent and purpose of the constitutional scheme.
The application said the apex court had passed the order at a stage when the election process was on going with representation of persons belonging to the OBC community. Any intervention at this stage would deprive the person belonging to OBC community for five long years which by no stretch of logic be said to be a short period causing grave prejudice to the backward classes, it said.
The Centre said while the mandate of law in the judgements delivered by the constitution bench and the three-judge bench has to be complied with, the apex court may consider striking a balance between the adherence to these verdicts and protecting the interest of persons belonging to OBC category which is of utmost priority for the government. .the applicant, therefore, is moving this application praying for intervention of this court to defer the ongoing election process by four months with a mandate to the state government to come out with the report of the commission which is already functioning within three months, it said.
The Centre said till such time, the administrator can function who can hand over the charge to the newly elected person or body who will be elected with the provision of OBC reservation. It said as per the assurance given before the top court, the Centre has already issued a detailed advisory sent to all the state governments requiring their strict compliance with the binding judicial pronouncements in the two verdicts.
On December 17, the apex court had observed that it had passed an order on December 15 directing the SEC to notify the seats in the local body in Maharashtra, which were reserved for the OBCs, as general category. “Accordingly, we direct the Madhya Pradesh State Election Commission to stay the election process in respect of OBCs seats only, in all the local bodies and to re-notify those seats for general category,” the bench had said on December 17. The apex court had passed the order after the matter related to local body election in Madhya Pradesh on seats reserved for OBC was brought before it. It had said the matter related to Madhya Pradesh would be listed along with the petitions pertaining to Maharashtra on January 17.
In March this year, a three-judge bench of the apex court had said that reservation in favour of OBCs in the local bodies concerned in Maharashtra cannot exceed 50 per cent of the total seats reserved for the Scheduled Castes, the Scheduled Tribes and OBCs taken together. The top court had referred to the triple condition noted in the constitution bench verdict of 2010. The conditions included to specify the proportion of reservation required to be provisioned local body-wise in light of recommendations of the commission so as not to fall foul of overbreadth and in any case such reservation shall not exceed an aggregate of 50 percent of the total seats reserved in favour of SCs/STs/OBCs taken together.