The Supreme Court set aside the High Court’s decision and observed that considering the number of municipal corporations in Maharashtra, the chances of repetition of OBC reservation in Mayor’s post cannot be eliminated and as per the Maharashtra law, this cannot be called violative of rotation policy.
Date of Judgement:
Hon’ble Justice L Nageswara Rao, Justice BR Gavai
Appellant: SANJAY RAMDAS PATIL
Respondent: SANJAY AND OTHERS
- Sanjay Sudhakar Jadhav originally belonged to the Scheduled Caste category, but was elected as a Councillor to the Dhule Municipal Corporation from the General Category.
- Following the notification of 27th November 2019, the Office of Mayor of the Corporation was set aside for Backward Class of citizens for the next two and half years starting from June, 2021.
- Sanjay filed a petition alleging that from 2003, the Office of Mayor of the Corporation was reserved for Backward Class category, but not reserved for Scheduled Caste category.
- While challenging this reservation, he filed a prayer for providing directions to reserve the post of Mayor for two and a half years for Scheduled Caste category.
- The Bombay High Court had relied upon subrule (2) of Rule 3 of the Maharashtra Municipal Corporations (Reservation of Offices of Mayors) Rules, 2006 and on the judgment of the Single Judge of the Karnataka High Court, and held that previously, the Office of Mayor of the Corporation was already reserved for Backward Class.
- Reserving it again stating that there was no reservation for the Scheduled Caste would result in violation of rotation policy.
- Further, the matter was remanded to the State for considering afresh with these observations.
- Whether the judgement of the High Court took into consideration the import of Clauses (d) and (e) of subrule (2) of Rule 3 of the said Rules?
- Whether the Office of Mayor should be reserved again for the Scheduled Caste?
- Whether it was violative of the rotation policy?
- 243T: Reservation of seats- It states that the State must reserve seats for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in every Municipality, and the number of seats reserved must be the same proportion to the total number of seats to be filled by direct election in the Municipality as the population of the Scheduled Castes or the Scheduled Tribes in the Municipal area bears to the total population of that particular area. It further mandates that these seats can be allotted by rotation to different constituencies in a Municipality.
- Section 19 of the Maharashtra Municipal Corporation: This Section provides for the election of the Mayor and Deputy Mayor from the Councillors in the Corporation. It states that the reservation for the office of the Mayor in the Corporation must be done by rotation, in the prescribed manner as Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribes, Women and the Backward Class of Citizens.
- Subrule (1) of Rule 3: It states that by notification in the official Gazette, the Government can specify the number of offices of Mayors in Municipal Corporation in a State which would be reserved for the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Backward Class and women.
- The Court observed that total 27 seats of Mayors are available in the State. Out of that, 1 is reserved for Scheduled Tribes, 3 are reserved for Scheduled Castes and 7 are reserved for Backward Class of citizens. From the total 27 seats, only 9 seats are eligible for reservation of Scheduled Tribes category.
- Thus, the seats reserved for Backward Classes are more than twice the seats for Scheduled Castes.
- So, while applying the Rules, the reservation can be granted for Backward Class category on more than one occasion and no reservation be given for Scheduled Castes even on a single occasion.
- It further observed that taking into consideration the difference in the number of seats, such a situation was bound to occur and the legislative intention would be defeated if the interpretation of the rule is done in such a way that the reservation for each office cannot be done if it has already been reserved.
- Thus, the Supreme Court was of the opinion that an interpretation which would make the statute workable would be preferred and such a reservation would not violate the rotation of policy.
- The Court remarked that clause (d) of sub-rule 1 provides that drawing of lots for the office of Mayors is reserved for such category and shall be excluded from the draw of lots for those categories.
- And clause (e) provided that the offices of Mayors, which would be reserved, must be rotated in the consecutive terms.
- The court placed its reliance upon many interpretations made by different courts and finally held that the Dhule Municipality was in the zone of consideration for SC reservation but it failed in the draw of lots.
- Only after that, it was included in the OBC reservation poll. It had to be included in the OBC pool, given the number of municipalities available.
The Court had taken into account the best interest of the legislative intent. It had preferred an interpretation which would bring about the effect of result. The various legal provisions followed also indicated that the Centre has the authority to make such reservations. Hence, the Bombay High Court’s decision was overturned and the Dhule Municipality was finally included in the OBC poll.
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