India top court directs Maharashtra state government to submit data on disadvantaged communities
© JURIST (Neelabh Bist)
India top court directs Maharashtra state government to submit data on disadvantaged communities

The Supreme Court of India Wednesday ordered the Maharashtra state government to provide all data and information available with it regarding the Other Backward Classes (OBCs) to the State Backward Class Commission (SBCC). OBC is a classification used by the Government of India to categorise educationally or socially disadvantaged castes so that governments can take measures for their upliftment. The SBCC will examine the correctness of the data submitted by the Maharashtra state government and make recommendations on the representation of the OBCs in local-body elections.

A bench comprising Justices AM Khanwilkar and CT Ravikumar had on December 6, 2021, ordered a stay on the ordinance promulgated by the Maharashtra state government to provide 27% reservation to the OBCs in local-body elections. The bench had noted that the ordinance was an attempt to overreach the judgement of the SC in Vikas Kishanrao Gawali v. State Of Maharashtra, wherein the court had quashed the 27% OBC reservation for contravening the triple condition test required before reserving seats in the local bodies for OBCs. The three conditions are:

(1) setting up a dedicated Commission to conduct a contemporaneous rigorous empirical inquiry into the nature and implications of the backwardness qua local bodies, within the state;
(2) specifying the proportion of reservation in light of recommendations of the Commission;
(3) in any case such reservation shall not exceed an aggregate of 50 per cent of the total seats reserved in favour of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and OBCs.

The court noted:

Information & data available with State Government can be furnished with the dedicated Commission who can examine efficacy & take appropriate decision as may be warranted including submitting interim report to the State Government making recommendations as may be necessary which can be taken forward in accordance with law. This obviously would not complete the triple test exercise which has to be completed in terms of Vikas Gavali before providing seats in local government for OBC category.

The matter will now be heard on February 8, 2022.