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KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Repetition of OBC reservation for Mayor’s post does not violate rotation policy.
  • Interpretation considered by the High Court cannot be considered workable.
  • Dhule Municipality must be included in the OBC pool considering the number of municipalities available.

FACTS OF THE CASE

  • In Maharashtra, there are 27 posts of mayors in its municipal corporations.
  • Among them, 1 is reserved for Scheduled Tribes, 3 are reserved for Scheduled Castes and 7 are reserved for Backward Class.
  • From 2003 to 2017, out of the total 7 terms of the Office of Mayor of the Dhule Corporation, two terms, 2006 and 2014, were reserved for the Backward Class category.
  • After the 2019 elections, when the draw of lots for the SC reservation was done, Dhule Municipality was taken into consideration.
  • But apart from Dhule, 3 other Corporations were also selected for SC reservation.
  • The draw of lots was done from the pool of 16 Corporations after the 7 Corporations which were reserved for the Backward Class of Citizens in the preceding term and the 4 Corporations which were reserved for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes were excluded.

THE HIGH COURT JUDGEMENT

  • On 7th May 2021, the High Court delivered its judgment.
  • The Bombay High Court quashed the notification which was issued by the Maharashtra Government for reserving the post of Mayor in Dhule Municipal Corporation for a candidate who belongs to the Other Backward Class category.
  • It had held that if the reservation of OBC is repeated for the second term without providing a reservation for Scheduled Caste, it is violative of the policy of rotation.

OBSERVATIONS MADE BY THE COURT

  • The Supreme Court set aside the judgment delivered by the Bombay High Court by stating that the High Court’s opinion for providing reservation to each category by rotation must not be applied twice was untenable.
  • The court observed that taking into account the number of Municipal Corporations in the State of Maharashtra, there were chances of repetition of OBC reservation in Mayor post even before the turn for SC reservation occurs.
  • Hence this cannot be held as violative of the rotation policy, according to Maharashtra law.
  • The division bench mentioned Article 243T of the Constitution, which stipulates reservation of seats in municipalities, Section 19 of the Maharashtra Municipal Corporations Act, 1949, and Rule 3 of the Maharashtra Municipal Corporations (Reservation of Offices of Mayors) Rules, 2006.
  • Justice Gavai remarked that the interpretation which makes the statute workable must be followed. And that interpretation must be given importance which would bring about the effect of result, rather than defeating the purpose of the enactment.
  • Thus, the court directed that Dhule Municipality had to be included in the OBC pool taking into account the number of municipalities available.

DO YOU THINK DHULE SHOULD HAVE BEEN INCLUDED?

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