CHENNAI: The Madras High Court dismissed as withdrawn petitions challenging the poll notification for local bodies in Puducherry without reservations to Backward Classes (BCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs). It, however, extended the interim stay on the elections by two weeks to give time for the petitioners to approach the Supreme Court.
Following two days of intense arguments over the validity of the notification and the legality of holding the polls without reservations to BCs and STs, the First Bench of Acting Chief Justice (ACJ) Munishwar Nath Bhandari and Justice PD Audikesavalu on Wednesday dismissed the petitions as withdrawn with the liberty to the petitioners to approach the Supreme Court.
Appearing for the Puducherry Union Territory (UT), senior counsel Vijay Narayan informed the court that the government is firmly committed to providing reservation to BCs and is planning to set up a dedicated commission to go into the issue of determining political backwardness. Thus stating, he sought two months time. Senior counsel P Wilson, appearing for one of the petitioners, DMK secretary and opposition leader in the Assembly R Siva, pointed out that caste-wise data for providing reservations to BCs and STs was taken during the last census and the same is available with the Union Ministry of Social Empowerment.
He maintained that as per the provisions of the Constitution, no election can be held without providing reservation to the STs. This is because reservations for SCs and STs are constitutional mandate. On determining the political backwardness of the BCs, the Bench said it could be determined only through setting up a dedicated commission that has to fix the criteria first and then collect data on politically backward persons local body-wise.
When the Bench insisted that it cannot continue to extend the interim order staying conduct of the polls and would dispose of the petitions on merit, the counsels for the petitioners agreed to withdraw the petitions to approach the Supreme Court, where a case related to the polls has been pending