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CM Yogi Welcomes SC Order On Holding UP Local Body Polls With OBC Quota

The high court's order had come on pleas challenging the preparation of the OBC reservation draft without following the "triple test" formula prescribed by the Supreme Court.

UP CM Yogi Adityanath in Mumbai
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Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Monday welcomed the Supreme Court allowing the State Election Commission to issue a notification regarding the urban local body polls in the state.

In a tweet in Hindi, Adityanath said, "Accepting the report of the OBC Commission by the Honourable Supreme Court, and the orders to conduct the urban local body elections is welcome. The UP government is committed to conduct the urban local body elections in a time-bound manner, while following the rules of reservation in a lawful manner."

The Supreme Court on Monday paved the way for holding the urban local body polls in Uttar Pradesh as it allowed the State Election Commission to issue a notification in this regard in two days with an OBC quota in terms of a report of the Uttar Pradesh Backward Classes Commission.

A bench of Chief Justice DY Chandrachud and Justices PS Narasimha and JB Pardiwala said, "This court, in an order dated January 4, 2023, noted that in view of the decisions of this court, the government of Uttar Pradesh issued a notification for setting up the Uttar Pradesh Backward Classes Commission in December 2022. Though the tenure of the commission was six months, it was to complete its task by March 31, 2023."

It further said, "The solicitor general informs that the report has been submitted on March 9, 2023 to the cabinet. The process of notifying the local body elections is going on and will be done in two days. The plea is disposed of. The direction in this order is not to be used as precedent."

On January 4, the top court stayed an Allahabad High Court order directing the holding of the urban local body polls without any reservation for the Other Backward Classes (OBCs). It had also ordered that the panel appointed by the state government to decide on issues related to the grant of the OBC quota for the local body polls will have to conclude its exercise within three months (by March 31), instead of six months as stipulated earlier.

Earlier, the state government had moved the apex court with its appeal against a December 27, 2022 order of the high court, saying the latter cannot quash the draft notification issued on December 5 last year, which provided for reservation of seats in the urban civic body polls for the OBCs, apart from those for the Scheduled Castes (SCs), Scheduled Tribes (STs) and women.

The appeal said the OBCs are a constitutionally-protected section and the high court erred in quashing the draft notification. After the high court's order, the Uttar Pradesh government appointed a five-member commission for going into the entire gamut of issues for providing reservation to the OBCs in the urban local body polls.

The panel was headed by Justice (retired) Ram Avtar Singh. The four other members of the panel were retired Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officers Chob Singh Verma and Mahendra Kumar, and former legal advisors to the state government Santosh Kumar Viskarma and Brajesh Kumar Soni.

The Lucknow bench of the high court had ordered that the state government notify the polls "immediately" as the term of several municipalities was going to expire by January 31, while annulling the December 5, 2022 draft notification. The high court had directed the State Election Commission to hold the elections by January 31, after transferring the OBC seats in the draft notification to the general category.

The high court's order had come on pleas challenging the preparation of the OBC reservation draft without following the "triple test" formula prescribed by the Supreme Court.

The triple test requires setting up a commission to hold a "rigorous empirical inquiry" into the nature of the "backwardness" in the context of the local bodies, specifying the proportion of reservation based on the commission's recommendations and ensuring that it does not exceed the overall 50-per cent quota limit.

The high court had held that the triple test condition formulated by the Supreme Court 11 years ago was mandatory. "Until the triple test is completed in all respects by the state government, no reservation for a backward class of citizens shall be provided," the order had said.

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