Andhra high court strikes down quota for weaker sections in local body polls
A division bench of the high court ruled that the total percentage of reservations in the local bodies should not exceed 50 per cent, as per the Supreme Court directions in the past.
The Andhra Pradesh high court on Monday evening struck down a government order providing 59.85 per cent reservations to Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes in the local body elections in the state, which are scheduled to be held later this month.
A division bench of the high court, comprising chief justice Jitendra Kumar Maheshwari and judge Nainala Jayasurya, ruled that the total percentage of reservations in the local bodies should not exceed 50 per cent, as per the Supreme Court directions in the past.
A government order in November fixed 34% reservations for OBCs, 19.08% for SCs and 6.77% for STs. The order was challenged by B Pratap Reddy through a public interest litigation (PIL) petition filed in Supreme Court last month. The SC, in turn, referred the PIL to the Andhra Pradesh high court.
The high court directed that the government come out with a fresh pattern of reservations for the weaker sections not exceeding the upper limit of 50 per cent fixed by the top court within a month and take up the election process after four weeks.
The court did not agree with the contention of Advocate General S Subrahmanyam that the state government could increase the quota beyond 50 per cent under special circumstances. “There are no special circumstances in the state now,” the bench observed.
State municipal administration minister Botsa Satyanaryana said the government would abide by the high court verdict that reservations should not exceed 50 per cent and would go ahead to complete the election process to the local bodies within a month.
He, however, blamed it on the Telugu Desam Party led by N Chandrababu Naidu for the judgment. He alleged that the petitioner was a TDP sympathiser and the opposition did not want increased quota for SCs, STs and OBCs.
“Naidu has scant respect for social justice and for the uplift of weaker sections. While Jagan had provided 59.85% reservations to the weaker sections in local body elections, Naidu has directed his party leader to file a case to stall the hike in quota,” Satyanarayana alleged.
TDP spokesman and former MLA Bonda Umamaheshwar Rao said the YSRCP government had deliberately brought in the increased quota for weaker sections only to garner votes, despite knowing that the order would be struck down in the court of law.