SC Upholds HC Order of Seat Reservation For ULB Polls In Odisha

New Delhi: The Odisha government received a jolt as the Supreme Court on Friday rejected its appeal and upheld the order of the Orissa High Court on the reservation of seats for elections to urban local bodies (ULBs) in the state.

Asked about the directive of the apex court, Urban Development minister Niranjan Pujari said the state government will take a decision after examining the directive.

“We are not apprised of the directive of the Supreme Court till now. But if the apex court has directed the timeline to conduct the ULB elections, we will take necessary steps in this regard,” State Election Commissioner (SEC) Udaya Narayan Das told the media.

A PIL was filed in the Orissa High Court alleging that the reservation of seats was more than 50 per cent during the Panchayat elections in 2012, ULB elections in 2013 and Panchayat elections in 2017, which was a gross violation of the order of the apex court in 2010.

Hearing the petition, the Orissa High Court had asked the state government not to exceed 50 per cent reservation of seats for scheduled castes (SC), scheduled tribes (ST) and other backward classes (OBC) in the non-scheduled areas for the forthcoming ULB polls. This excludes scheduled areas.

The court had also asked the state government to limit the reservation of seats for OBCs to not more than 11 per cent as against 27 per cent earlier. However, the court noticed the violation of the order when the reservation quota for OBCs was more than 50 per cent in 50-55 ULBs.

Challenging the order of the High Court, the state government had moved the Supreme Court, which rejected its appeal and directed the state government to abide by the High Court order.

It may be recalled that the state government had directed the district collectors to complete delimitation of wards and reservation of seats for the ULBs by April 30 this year. However, the work is yet to be completed as the state government moved the Supreme Court challenging the Orissa High Court order on restricting reservation of seats to 50 per cent.

The Odisha Cabinet on September 8 this year, had approved a proposal of the state government for the extension of tenure of 65 ULBs by six months.

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