Odisha panchayat polls: HC directs govt to redraw notification on PRI reservation

The HC issued the direction while disposing of petitions which had raised issues concerning the manner of determining the percentages of seats of panchayats on the quotas for SC, ST and OBC categories

Published: 22nd December 2021 06:02 PM  |   Last Updated: 22nd December 2021 06:02 PM   |  A+A-

Odisha HC

Odisha High Court

By Express News Service

CUTTACK: The Orissa High Court on Wednesday directed the State government to undertake the fresh exercise of drawing a draft notification on the reservation to offices of Panchayati Raj Institution (PRI) members and complete the process for coming up with the final list so that the notification for the panchayat elections is issued on January 8.

The State government had planned to issue the notification for the elections on December 27 to ensure that the panchayat election process is completed before the tenure of all the PRIs ends on March 10, 2022.

The court issued the direction while disposing of a batch of petitions which had raised issues concerning the manner of determining the percentages of seats of panchayats on the quotas for SC, ST and OBC categories.

On December 6, 2021, the Supreme Court of India had on grounds of non-compliance of "triple test" directed the State Election Commission (SEC) in Maharashtra to desist from proceeding with the election programme already notified in respect of reserved seats for the OBC category only in the concerned local bodies.

The SC had said a "triple test" has to be followed before deciding on the extent of quota to a category. Firstly, a dedicated Commission needs to be set up to conduct a contemporaneous rigorous empirical inquiry into the nature and implications of the backwardness as regards local bodies within the State.

Secondly, there is a need 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 thirdly, reservation should not exceed the aggregate of 50 per cent of the seats reserved in favour of SCs/STs/OBCs taken together.

Citing the SC's December 6, 2021 order the division bench of Chief Justice S Muralidhar and Justice A K Mohapatra said: "Although there is a Commission already set up by the Government of Odisha, satisfying the first of the triple test, the second of the triple test do not stand fulfilled as of date. In other words, there cannot be reserved seats for sarpanches for the OBC category".

"Therefore, in view of the developments in terms of the orders by the Supreme Court, there will have to be a fresh exercise of drawing a draft notification and publishing it for inviting objections".

According to the order, Advocate General AK Parija had stated before the Court that the State government will now come up with a fresh draft notification which will be published on December 27, inviting objections by January 3 and the final list will be communicated by January 7, 2022, for final notification for the panchayat elections on the next day.



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