The Supreme Court on Saturday delivered a big blow to the Maharashtra government after it said that the state government cannot postpone local body polls over reservation for Other Backward Classes (OBCs) in local governing bodies. The apex court said that only the Election Commission has the authority to postpone the polls.
Earlier, in a rare show of solidarity, both the ruling and opposition parties in Maharashtra were in consonance on the subject of 27 per cent political reservation for OBCs in local bodies, recently scrapped by the Supreme Court.
At a meeting chaired by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, parties insisted that no local body elections should take place until the restoration of political reservation for OBCs. The meeting took place after the government’s filing a petition in the Supreme Court with a plea to direct the Centre to share empirical data with the state government.
Later, the ruling and the opposition parties agreed upon that the task of collecting OBC political reservation data (empirical data) should be done by the State Backward Classes Commission (SBCC). At the meeting chaired by Thackeray, the participants pointed out that the SBCC can complete the exercise in four months provided it gets enough funds, required government machinery and political will.
Meanwhile, OBC activist Hari Narke said the top court's decision today is on expected lines. "From the very first, I was saying the state government doesn't have the authority to postpone polls in such a manner. When the Chief Minister took two meetings with the opposition parties, all political leaders were delivering speeches without any knowledge of the Constitution," Narke said. "According to me, there are only two options left to restore the reservation. First, the Centre should provide the empirical data at the earliest. Second, the state government should take the decision immediately and allow SBCC to begin their work," he added.
The next hearing in the case is set for September 23, 2021.