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UP Panchayat Polls: Plea Before Supreme Court Challenges High Court's Order Directing 2015 To Be Taken As Base Year For Reserving Seats

Srishti Ojha
23 March 2021 11:33 AM GMT
UP Panchayat Polls: Plea Before Supreme Court Challenges High Courts Order Directing 2015 To Be Taken As Base Year For Reserving Seats
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A plea has been filed before the Supreme Court challenging the Allahabad High Court's order dated 15th March that directed State of UP to take 2015 as base year instead of 1995 for reserving seats in upcoming UP panchayat polls, and hold elections by May 25th. The plea has also challenged the UP government's 17th March issued in compliance of the High Court's order as a consequence of...

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A plea has been filed before the Supreme Court challenging the Allahabad High Court's order dated 15th March that directed State of UP to take 2015 as base year instead of 1995 for reserving seats in upcoming UP panchayat polls, and hold elections by May 25th.

The plea has also challenged the UP government's 17th March issued in compliance of the High Court's order as a consequence of which, the constituency Ishapur, district Jaunpur of the petitioner which was earmarked as unreserved, has now been reserved for the Other Backward Class category.

The High Court had quashed an order issued by the Uttar Pradesh government dated 11th February, dealing with the reservation of seats for various categories of candidates in the polls, taking 1995 as the base year. The petitioner, a resident of Ishapur Gram Panchayat has contended that it was not brought to the High Court's notice that the Uttar Pradesh Panchayat Raj (Reservation and Allotment of Seats) Rules, 1994 were amended by the 11th amendment on 9th Feb 2021 and accordingly the Government order was issued.

The plea has been drawn by Advocate Shariq Ahmed and filed by Advocate Sunil Kumar Verma. The petition has stated that when Panchayat elections were due in 2015, the State Govt., on the ground of reorganization of Gram Panchayats since the last elections amended the Rules 1994 through the 10th amendment by incorporating a proviso to Rules 4. The amendment provided for commencement of a new rotation ignoring the prior status of the reservation/rotation for gram panchayats in respect of each of the reserved categories.

The plea has added that this led to serious anomalies due to non-implementation of reorganization in four districts of Gonda, Sambhal, Gautambudhnagar and Moradabad, as in the event of the Panchayat election being held as per the 2015 amended Rules, new reservation would have had to be made in the these four districts, whereas in rest of the 71 districts there would have been reservation of the next stage of the rotational reservation of the 2015 election.

According to the petitioner, to obviate this anomalous and chaotic situation and to bring uniformity in the panchayat election, the State Govt. amended the said 1994 Rules by the 11th amendment titled 'The Uttar Pradesh Panchayat Raj (Reservation and Allotment of Seats and Offices) (Eleventh Amendment) Rules, 2021 concerning the reservation of seats in order to ensure that no Panchayat is deprived of the benefit of reservation based on caste.

The plea has stated that the High Court erroneously relied on the judgment of Supreme Court in case of Vikas Krishna Gawali Vs. State of Maharashtra. The plea has added that due to the impugned Govt. Order dated 17th March, the constituency of the petitioner which was earlier earmarked as unreserved, has now been reserved for the Other Backward Class Category.

"The very object of the principle of rotation that no community or reserved category can lay claim to a reserved seat in perpetuity has been belied by this Govt. order inasmuch as several constituency which were reserved for one category would be reserved for the same category again whereas several constituency may not get the reserve status due do the principle of next descending order of population because of demographic changes after every census." the plea has stated.

The petitioner has also pointed out the anomalies in computation of percentage population of reserved category. According to the petitioner, a rapid survey was done for computation of the percentage population of the reserved category of the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and Other Backward Classes for the purposes of providing reservation to such categories on the rotational basis. The anomaly of this computation of the various constituencies of Jaunpur district is quite evident from the fact that for some of them the percentage of the Backward Class population is shown to be more than 100 percent

The Allahabad High Court had on 15th March quashed an order issued by the Uttar Pradesh government (dated 11th February) dealing with the reservation of seats for various categories of candidates for the upcoming panchayat polls, taking 1995 as the base year. The State Government had submitted before the bench of Justice Manish Mathur and Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi that it had no objection to implement the reservation and allotment of seats of constituencies in Panchayat's elections taking 2015 as the base year.

Earlier, on 12th March, the High Court had stayed the publication of the final list of seats reserved for the panchayat polls till 15th March. The High Court was hearing a PIL filed by one Ajay Kumar, who challenged the UP-State Government's decision to take 1995 as the base year, instead of 2015, for reserving the seats for upcoming panchayat polls.

Referring to the Government Order dated 16th September 2015, the Petitioner's counsel contended that substantial demographic changes have taken place in the Districts of the State in the Gram Panchayat and Kshetra Panchayat territories in view of the census of 2001 and 2011. Thus, it was argued that it wouldn't be conducive to have 1995 as the base year for purposes of applying reservation as per Rule 4 of Rules of 1994 and that the base year in view of the changed demographic situation was required to be taken as 2015.

The High Court then directed the State to hold the elections by 10th May 2021 and indirect election by 25th May 2021. The impugned order dated 11th February 2021 was also quashed and the writ petition was allowed.

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