OBC Quota: SC accepts Banthia Commission’s report, rejects MSBCC findings

In local bodies, reservation for the SCs and STs are given on the basis of their population data statutorily derived from the decidable census.

Sanjay JogUpdated: Wednesday, July 20, 2022, 09:55 PM IST
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Supreme Court | PTI

Tale of two commissions which had crafted exports recommending the reservation to the other backward classes in local bodies in Maharashtra.

The dedicated commission on OBCs headed by former chief secretary Jayant Banthia, which was formed on March 10 by the Maha Vikas Aghadi government, in its report submitted to the Shinde-Fadnavis government on July 10, said as per the survey carried out by the government based on the voter’s list, the population of the backward class of citizens to the total population is estimated to be around 37%. ‘'Even if the proportion of the backward class of citizens is around 37% at the state level, it is different in each local body. The reservation for the backward class of citizens should be given in proportion to their population in each local body without affecting the statutory reservation for Scheduled Castes (SC), Scheduled Tribes (ST) and subject to the overall reservation limit of 50%,’’ said the Commission.

In local bodies, reservation for the SCs and STs are given on the basis of their population data statutorily derived from the decidable census. Similarly, for the backward classes of citizens, it would be more appropriate to devise a similar methodology and compile the data for the backward classes of citizens for each local body.

If the proportion of population of SC and ST in a local body is more than 50%, then there is no reservation for backward classes of citizens. The total reservation has been restricted up to 50%. Keeping in mind the SC and ST population and excluding seats reserved for them, the remaining available seats and posts of chairpersons have been specified for backward classes of citizens as per their proportion in population or 27% whichever is less.

The SC accepted the Banthia led Commission’s report that paved the way for restoration of quota for OBCs in local bodies.

The Maharashtra State Backward Classes Commission (MSBCC) headed by Justice (retired) AV Nirgude

The MSBCC in its interim report in February had strongly recommended the restoration of 27% political quota in local bodies subject to a permissible upper limit of 50% excluding statutory reservation for SC and ST. Further, the Commission said the OBC population in Maharashtra is 38% and not 33% as pointed out by the union ministry of social justice in its report released in March 2021.

‘’ Considering the percentage of OBC pupils in schools, it endorses that the percentage of OBCs in Maharashtra may be much more than 38%.,‘’ it added.

‘’The Commission though it fit to recommend to restore 27% reservation which is already permissible by various enactments excluding the area notified by Panchayats Extension to Scheduled Areas (PESA) Act, 1996 and subject to permissible upper limit of 50% to BCC/OBC category in local self government excluding statutory reservation meant for SC and ST,’’ it said.

However, the Supreme Court rejected the report citing that it was prepared in absence of empirical study and research by the commission. The compilation of empirical data was one of the components of the triple test to be fulfilled by the state government.

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