OBC quota: Maharashtra files petition in SC against zilla parishad bypolls
The Maharashtra government on Monday filed a petition in the Supreme Court against bypolls declared by the state elections commission (SEC) in five zilla parishads — Dhule, Nandurbar, Akola, Washim and Nagpur
The Maharashtra government on Monday filed a petition in the Supreme Court against bypolls declared by the state elections commission (SEC) in five zilla parishads — Dhule, Nandurbar, Akola, Washim and Nagpur. The state has demanded that the elections be deferred by six months in the wake of the potential third wave of the pandemic and threat of rapid spread of virus after delta plus variant was found in a few districts of the state.
Advocate Sachin Patil, standing counsel for Maharashtra government in the Supreme Court, confirmed the development but refused to share details of the petition.
SEC has, on June 22, declared bypoll on the seats that got vacated following the Apex court’s verdict against 27% political reservation for Other Backward Classes (OBC) in all local bodies across the state. The state government had requested SEC to postpone the bypoll last week.
The state approached the Supreme Court after SEC denied their request saying they were bound by Apex court’s directives.
“The Central government has warned of a possible third wave hitting us in the next few weeks. Cases of delta plus variants have also been found in the state, which has raised our concern for public health. Considering this, the state has reduced relaxations and all cities and districts have been brought under level 3 of the five-level relaxation declared by the state earlier,” said a senior official privy to the development.
The state had declared a five-level plan under which cities and districts falling under level 1 and 2 were getting maximum relaxations. However, both the levels were removed by the state on June 25.
“Following the Apex court’s decision, Palghar zilla parishad seats also got vacated but SEC didn’t declare a bypoll there as Palghar falls under level 3 category. In our petition, we have pointed out that most of the areas are under level 3 restrictions (after the fresh notification issued on June 25) and some also fall under level 4 and 5. This needs to be considered, as the polls may lead to crowding and rise in Covid cases,” he said.
All political parties have opposed the bypoll as no seat can be reserved for OBC category candidates following the Supreme Court’s verdict in which it directed the state to appoint a dedicated commission for collecting empirical data, based on which, the reservation of the community is to be fixed. It means no seat is going to be reserved for the community in local bodies until the state completes the process.
Many OBC outfits and political parties including the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have staged protests demanding restoration of the reservation last week. Ruling Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), too, have held protests against the Central government, accusing it of not providing empirical data of the community which led to the situation.