SC stays Allahabad HC order to conduct local body polls without OBC quota by January end

4 January, 2023 | Vaishali Sharma

Supreme Court of India National

The Supreme Court halted the Allahabad High Court’s ruling requiring the Uttar Pradesh administration to hold local government elections in the state by the end of January without providing O...

The Supreme Court halted the Allahabad High Court’s ruling requiring the Uttar Pradesh administration to hold local government elections in the state by the end of January without providing OBCs quota.

A bench of Chief Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice PS Narasimha instructed that the State of Uttar Pradesh create a panel to decide the OBC quota-related issues for the local bodies election by March 31, 2023. The Supreme Court ordered the State Backward Commission till March 31 to produce a report on the political backwardness of OBCs in order to give quotas in local authorities.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath welcomed the Supreme Court decision.

It permitted the State government to appoint administrators to run the affairs of the local bodies after the expiry of the tenure of the elected representatives. It said the administrators will not be empowered to take major policy decisions.

“To ensure that administration of local bodies is not hampered, the government will be at liberty to issue delegation and financial powers. This is subject to the caveat that no major policy decision shall be taken by the administrator,” the top court said in its order.

The order of the apex court came while taking into the note of the submissions of Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the State government.

The SG informed the bench that, notwithstanding the newly established Commission’s six-month term, every effort will be taken to conclude the exercise on or before March 31.

The High Court’s Lucknow bench had directed that the State administration notice the polls “soon” because the terms of numerous municipalities were set to expire on January 31.

It said that the terms of the state’s local bodies had either finished or would end by January 31, 2023.
While hearing the Uttar Pradesh government’s appeal against the High Court ruling, the Supreme Court also issued notice to the petitioners who had filed PILs in the High Court on which the order was based.

The Uttar Pradesh government has petitioned the Supreme Court to overturn an Allahabad High Court ruling mandating the State Election Commission to run urban local body elections without reservation for Other Backward Classes (OBCs).

It has challenged the December 27 ruling of the Allahabad High Court’s Lucknow bench, which annulled a government directive issued on December 5 providing quota for OBCs in civic elections.

The State Election Commission was instructed by the High Court to “quickly” notice elections to urban local bodies without OBC quotas.

It had said that no reservation for the Backward Class of residents would be granted in the urban local body polls till the State administration passed the “triple test” as stipulated by the Supreme Court in all respects.

The High Court had asked the State government to form a commission to conduct an empirical study on the nature and backwardness of the people in order to have OBC quotas in the next election to urban local bodies, but it stressed that the election process could not be halted until this massive and time-consuming task was completed.

The order of the High Court came on a bunch of Public Interest Litigations (PILs) alleging that the entire exercise of reservation of seats in the municipalities is being carried out by the State government in “complete derogation and defiance” of the mandate of the Supreme Court.

On December 5, the Urban Development Department of the Uttar Pradesh government announced reservations for the seats of the Mayor in municipal corporations and Chairpersons of Nagar Palika Parishads and Nagar Panchayats.