OBC reservation in Madhya Pradesh civic body polls gets Supreme Court go-ahead

The top court further directed the  Madhya Pradesh State Election Commission (SEC) to notify the local body elections in one week’s time.

The top court further directed the  Madhya Pradesh State Election Commission (SEC) to notify the local body elections in one week's time.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday gave a green light to reservation for Other Backward Classes (OBC) for the local body elections in Madhya Pradesh. The top court further directed the  Madhya Pradesh State Election Commission (SEC) to notify the local body elections in one week’s time.

Reacting to the SC go-ahead, Madhya Pradesh Home minister Narottam Mishra thanked Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and claimed that it was a great win for the MP government. “Our government has won. Our hard work paid off. Under the leadership of Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, we met legal experts and presented our point with facts before the Hon’ble Supreme Court,” said Mishra.

Last week, the apex court had pulled up the SEC for failing to hold any local body elections for the past two years. Calling it a “breakdown of rule of law”, the top court pointed out that more than 23,263 local bodies were functioning without any elected heads. During last week’s hearing, the apex court ordered the state poll body to announce local poll schedule in two weeks’ time and slammed the SEC for failing to discharge its constitutional duty of announcing elections at the right time so as to ensure that governance remains a continuous process.

The apex court said that the ongoing delimitation process can’t be set as an excuse for failure to carry out the SEC’s constitutional obligation. “Even in case of dissolution before the expiry of five years period, where an Administrator is required to be appointed by the state, that regime cannot be continued beyond six months by virtue of relevant provisions in the respective State Legislation(s),” it said.

“Despite such a constitutional mandate, the reality in the state of Madhya Pradesh as of now is that more than 23,263 local bodies are functioning without the elected representatives for over two years and more,” it further added.

The three-judge bench noted that if the crucial triple test exercise cannot be completed before the SEC announces the election program, the seats, except reserved for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes which is a constitutional requirement, must be notified as for the general category.

“Therefore, we direct the SEC by way of an interim order, to issue an election programme without any further delay on the basis of the wards as per the delimitation done in the concerned local bodies when the elections had become due consequent to the expiry of five years term of the outgoing elected body or before coming into force of the impugned Amendment Act(s) whichever is later,” it said.

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