High Court pulls up Telangana government over OBC quota

HYDERABAD: The Telangana High Court on Monday pulled up the state government for not filling any counter since 2019 over a batch of petitions challenging action of said government curtailing percentage of reservations for other backward classes (OBCs) in local body elections to 22 per cent from the earlier 34 per cent.

A division bench comprising Chief Justice Hima Kohli and Justice B. Vijaysen Reddy directed the state government to file an affidavit along with surveys it had relied upon for deciding to reduce the reservation for OBCs.

The bench listed the matter for further hearing on April 19.

Counsel for petitioners pointed out that one of the prayers in the batch of petitions finds mention in the latest judgment passed on March 4, 2021, by a full bench of Supreme Court in the Vikas Kishanrao Gawali case, which is to proportionately increase percentage of reservations for OBCs in local body elections.

The petitioners said that the state government had considered the socio-economic survey conducted by the Telangana Backward Classes Cooperative Finance Corporation Limited to decide upon reservation percentages in local body elections. They argued that such survey must instead have been carried out by an appropriate commission like Telangana State Commission for Backward Classes. “How can the state allow the said corporation to conduct such rigorous survey to ascertain reservation percentages for OBCs about ensuring adequate political representation in local bodies,” the petitioners asked.

Speaking on behalf of the government, the Additional Advocate General maintained that the corporation is an appropriate body, which was set up to implement welfare schemes. He submitted that the state has been relying on surveys conducted by appropriate commissions before elections. Responding to the government counsel’s submission, the bench asked him to submit the relevant survey reports.

As per petitioners’ contention, the apex court has mandated that reservation percentages for OBCs in local body elections must pass the triple test, which is (1) To set up a dedicated commission to conduct contemporaneous rigorous empirical inquiry into the nature and implications of backwardness qua local bodies within the state; (2) To specify the proportion of reservation to be provisioned local body-wise in light of recommendations of the commission so as not to fall foul of over breadth; and (3) In any case, such reservation shall not exceed the aggregate of 50 percent of total seats reserved in favor of SCs / STs / OBCs taken together.

Petitioners maintained that in contravention of this triple test, the state government had issued the 2018 and 2019 notifications listing OBCs reservation percentages on basis of 2011 Census data of the central government.



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