HYDERABAD: In a setback to the Telangana government, the Hyderabad High Court on Tuesday directed it to conduct an enumeration of Backward Classes (BC) before going in for gram panchayat polls.
Justice M S Ramachandra Rao passed this interim order on a petition filed by state Congress leaders Dasoju Sravan and B Ravindranath, seeking the court’s intervention in ensuring scientific approach to reservation of seats for BC community and its sub-groups (A, B, C, D and E) and compliance of statutory provisions in the forthcoming panchayat raj elections.
The court wanted the government to identify the number of BC voters, invite objections from the public, publish and finalise figures for BC reservation in accordance with the Constitution and then conduct panchayat elections. The court directed the government and others concerned to file counter-affidavits within four weeks.
The counsel for the petitioners pointed out that the State government had got no clarity on BC population. Instead of following the guidelines, the government had made a cursory estimation of the BC population which was not correct. Even the Supreme Court had earlier made it clear that elections to panchayats should be held only after an enumeration of BC population. But the state government had failed to follow the procedure.
Additional advocate-general J Ramachandra Rao submitted that a survey of BC population was done as per Section 13 of the PR Act and it was conducted by the Directorate of Economics and Statistics.
Intervening, the petitioners’ counsel said that though the survey was conducted, it was not placed in public domain and no objections were invited from the public. Only after publishing the data and taking objections can State Election Commission go ahead with the issuance of the notification, he contended.
The judge said problems would arise if the court issued any direction after the issuance of election notification. When the AAJ sought time for filing counter affidavit, the judge said that there would be no objection to granting time for filing counter but problems would arise if State Election Commission issued a notification in the meantime.
While adjourning the case by four weeks, the judge issued notices to the respondents — principal secretary to PR, BC welfare, commissioner of PR, director of SEC, directorate of economics and statistics and TS BC Cooperative Finance Corporation for filing counter-affidavits. Dealing with another petition filed by AP and TS BC Welfare Associations seeking directions to AP government and Centre for publication of details pertaining to BC population, the judge issued notices to respondents for filing counter affidavits within four weeks.