UP: Allahabad High Court orders ULB polls sans OBC reservation
The Allahabad High Court's Lucknow bench on Tuesday quashed the Uttar Pradesh government's draft notification on urban local body (ULB) elections and ordered the polls be held without reservation for Other Backward Classes (OBC). A division bench comprising Justices DK Upadhyaya and Saurabh Lavania said the government doesn't fulfill the mandatory "triple test/conditions," so no reservation for OBCs shall be provided in the polls.
Why does this story matter?
- The HC's decision is seen as a setback for UP's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), as the civic polls are crucial for the saffron party to regain its prestige after losing the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) polls.
- The Aam Aadmi Party's (AAP) resounding win ended the BJP's 15-year rule in the MCD. So, the party is gearing up for the UP civic elections.
Verdict issued on a batch of PILs
The HC's verdict came on numerous PILs that contested the government's OBC reservation draft for the polls without adhering to the Supreme Court-prescribed triple test formula. Petitioners said the government must follow the mandated method of appointing a dedicated panel to check the political backwardness of OBCs before fixing reservations. The government, meanwhile, said it completed a "rapid survey" equivalent to the triple test.
Government's rapid survey argument rejected
Responding to the petitioners' arguments, the UP government on Tuesday said it conducted a rapid survey for the OBC reservation draft, which is as accurate as the triple test formula. However, the court didn't accept the argument and scrapped the government's draft. Even as the winter break began on Saturday, the Lucknow bench heard the petitions since the matter concerns ULB polls and democracy.
State government could challenge order in SC
Reportedly, after facing a setback in the HC, the state government is likely to appeal against the verdict in the SC. The BJP government is already facing criticism from opposition parties, with the Samajwadi Party accusing it of conspiring to deny quota to backward sections.
Government notification on OBC reservation in ULB polls
CM Yogi Adityanath-led Uttar Pradesh government published a draft notification for OBC reservation in municipal elections on December 5, which the Allahabad HC has now scrapped. Mayoral posts at four of the 17 municipal corporations—Aligarh, Mathura-Vrindavan, Meerut, and Prayagraj—were reserved for OBCs. Similarly, the chairperson's position was reserved for OBC candidates in 54 of 200 municipal councils and 147 of 545 nagar panchayats.
What do we know about 'triple test'?
The Supreme Court's triple test formula requires governments to form a commission, gather measurable community data, and allocate reservations in the local bodies so that the total reservation in any seat does not exceed 50%. It also considers the economic, educational, and backwardness conditions.