The Uttar Pradesh government on Wednesday set up a commission after the Allahabad Court on Tuesday quashed the state government’s Other Backward Classes (OBC) reservation in urban local body polls and ordered the polls to take place without OBC reservation.
The five-member commission will conduct a survey to ensure that the OBCs are provided reservation on the basis of the triple test, as mandated by the Supreme Court.
This would be the first time that the state will see the ‘triple test’ based on the guidelines of the law department and the urban development departments.
What is the triple test?
The Supreme Court gave the triple-test formula to create OBC reservation in local body elections in the judgement of Vikas Kishanrao Gawali Vs. State of Maharashtra (2021).
The three tests laid down by the Supreme Court are:
(1) to set up a dedicated Commission to conduct contemporaneous rigorous empirical inquiry into the nature and implications of the backwardness qua local bodies, within the state;
(2) 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;
(3) in any case such reservation shall not exceed aggregate of 50 per cent of the total seats reserved in favour of SCs/STs/OBCs taken together.
The SC in the judgement further said the reservation cannot be notified without meeting these conditions.
"In a given local body, the space for providing such reservation in favour of OBCs may be available at the time of issuing election programme (notifications). However, that could be notified only upon fulfilling the aforementioned preconditions...To put it differently, it will not be open to respondents to justify the reservation for OBCs without fulfilling the triple test, referred to above," said the SC judgement, as per a copy available online.
What's the issue of OBC reservation in UP local body polls?
The UP government had earlier this month issued a provisional list of reserved seats for mayors of 17 municipal corporations, chairpersons of 200 municipal councils, and 545 nagar panchayats for the three-tier urban local body elections and sought suggestions or objections within seven days.
According to the December 5 draft, four mayoral seats of Aligarh, Mathura-Vrindavan, Meerut, and Prayagraj were reserved for OBC candidates. Of these, the mayor's posts in Aligarh and Mathura-Vrindavan were reserved for OBC women.
Additionally, 54 chairpersons' seats in the 200 municipal councils were reserved for OBCs, including 18 for OBC women. For the chairpersons' seats in 545 nagar panchayats, 147 seats were reserved for OBC candidates, including 49 for OBC women.
What has the court said?
The Lucknow bench of Allahabad High Court annulled the draft notification issued by the Yogi Adityanath-led UP government on December 5 for the reservation of OBCs in the urban local body elections. The division bench of Justices DK Upadhyay and Saurav Lavania also ruled that polls will happen without OBC reservation.
The Allahabad High Court issued the ruling in response to petitions challenging the preparation of the OBC reservation draft without following the triple test formula prescribed by the Supreme Court.
Why petitions opposed OBC reservation in local body polls?
The petitioners had pleaded that the UP government must follow the apex court formula and constitute a dedicated commission to study the political backwardness of OBCs before fixing the reservation.
The UP government pleaded that it had conducted a rapid survey and said it was as good as the triple test formula.
The Lucknow bench on Saturday completed its hearing on the issue of urban local body elections, which had been stayed for a fortnight.
The bench, which broke for its winter vacation on Saturday, said it would hear the case during the recess as the matter pertained to local bodies' elections and democracy.
Reacting to the high court order, Samajwadi Party Spokesperson Sunil Singh Sajan said, "It is a conspiracy by the BJP government to deprive the backward classes of reservation."