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Notify ULB Polls without OBC reservation: Allahabad HC

Published: 5th Jan, 2023

Context

In a significant decision, the Allahabad High Court has directed the State Election Commission to immediately notify the Urban Local Body Polls without OBC reservation, as it held that the state government doesn't fulfil the Triple Test Formality.

Background

  • In 2021, the SC scrapped OBC quotas in local body polls in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh,and the Odisha high court cancelled a similar move in the state because the exercise didn’t pass the triple test.
  • The Triple-Test Formula, laid down by the Supreme Court in 2010 and later reiterated in March 2021, required the states to appoint a commission, collect quantifiable data of the community, and allocates reservation to them in local bodies in such a manner that the total reservation in each seat does not exceed 50%.

About

What is Triple Test?

  • In the Vikas Kishanrao Gawali case, the Apex Court had noted that a triple test is to be followed before provisioning reservation for the OBC category. The said triple test involves;
    • setting up a dedicated Commissionto conduct a contemporaneous rigorous empirical inquiry into the nature and implications of the backwardness qua local bodies, within the states;
    • Specifying the proportion of reservation requiredto be provisioned local body-wise in light of recommendations of the Commission, so as not to fall foul of Overbreadth;
    • Not exceeding an aggregate of 50 percentof the total seats reserved in favour of SCs/STs/OBCs taken together.

What does the Court’s ordered?

  • The state has been directed to consider the claim of transgender for their inclusion among the Backward Class of citizens.
  • A dedicated Commission is constituted for undertaking the exercise of conducting the empirical study as to the nature and implications of Backwardness for the purposes of providing reservation to the backward class of citizens in the context of elections to the urban local bodies.
  • The bench quashed the draft notification issued by the Uttar Pradesh government, expressing its intent to conduct Urban Local Body Election including OBC seats reserved.

Why such order has been given by the High Court?

  • The Allahabad High Court noted that the UP Government didn't constitute any dedicated Commission to conduct a contemporaneous rigorous empirical inquiry into the nature and implications of the backwardness qua local bodies and without such data being available, providing quota for OBC was not valid.
  • On the Other hand the triple test formula mandated by the apex court in the context of providing reservation for OBCs in local body polls.

Why Triple test rule was mandated by the Supreme Court?

  • The five-judge Constitution Bench decision in Krishnamurthy (Dr.) v. Union of India (2010)wherein the Supreme Court hadinterpreted Article 243D (6) and Article 243T (6), which permit reservation by enactment of law for backward classes in Panchayats and municipal bodies respectively, to hold that barriers to political participation are not the same as that of the barriers that limit access to education and employment.
  • However, for creating a level playing field, reservation may be desirable as mandated by the aforementioned Articles which provide a separate constitutional basis for reservation, as distinct from what are conceived under Article 15 (4) and Article 16 (4) which forms the basis for reservation in education and employment.
  • Though reservation to local bodies is permissible, the top court declared that the same is subject to empirical finding of backwardness in relation to local bodies as fulfilled through the triple tests.

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