The Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld the constitutional validity of reservation for SC, ST, women and other backward classes in panchayats and urban local bodies, including posts of chairpersons, and rejected the plea that the creamy layer should be excluded.
A five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan, however, said the quota benefits should not exceed the 50 per cent upper ceiling limit except in Scheduled areas. Reservation exceeding 50 per cent limit can be challenged in courts, it said.
The ruling came on a bunch of petitions challenging the constitutional validity of Articles 243-D(6) and 243-T (6), which provides reservation benefits for backward classes (SC, ST, women and OBCs) in local bodies and chairperson posts.
“Article 243-D(6) and Article 243-T(6) are constitutionally valid since they are in the nature of provisions, which merely enable state legislatures to reserve seats and chairperson posts in favour of backward classes,” the bench said.
Rejecting the plea for excluding the creamy layer, it said reservation in local self-governments was intended to directly benefit the community as a whole rather than just the elected representatives.
It said dedicated commissions needed to be appointed to conduct a rigorous empirical inquiry into the nature and implications of backwardness. “In the absence of updated empirical data, it is well nigh impossible for the courts to decide whether the reservation in favour of OBC groups are proportionate are not,” the bench said.