The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear on January 19 a plea moved by the Maharashtra government seeking a recall of its December 15 order directing the state poll panel to notify 27 per cent seats in the local bodies, which were earlier reserved for the Other Backward Classes, as general category seats.
A bench comprising justices A M Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheswari and C T Ravikumar was told by senior advocate Shekhar Naphade, who appeared in the matter on behalf of the state government, that a plea seeking a recall of the order was filed electronically on Monday.
As the bench could not find the fresh plea, the state government's counsel sought a hearing in the case either on Wednesday or Friday.
"Counsel for the state on instruction submits that a fresh IA (interim application) has been filed for a recall of the order dated December 15, 2021. Post the IA along with the connected matters on Wednesday (January 19)," the bench said.
It also ordered the state government to supply a copy of the application to the poll panel in the meantime.
On December 15, the top court had ordered the Maharashtra state election commission to re-notify the 27 per cent seats reserved for the OBCs in the local bodies as general category seats.
Prior to this, on December 6, the apex court had stayed the local body polls in Maharashtra on the seats reserved for the OBCs till further orders and made it clear that the poll process for the other seats would continue.
"In other words, the SEC must immediately issue a fresh notification for the 27 per cent seats reserved for OBCs as general category seats and initiate the election process for these seats along with the election process already on its way for the remaining 73 per cent of seats in the concerned local bodies," it had said.
The bench had said it was not possible to countenance the arguments that without complying with the triple test, which is required to be followed before provisioning such reservation for the OBC category, the state authority or the SEC can be permitted to notify the seats for the OBCs in any local body.
The court had passed the orders while hearing pleas, including one assailing the provisions inserted or amended through an ordinance permitting reservation for the category of backward class of citizens up to 27 per cent uniformly throughout Maharashtra in the local bodies concerned.
The top court had said the direction would apply even in case of bypolls to the local bodies.
It had said any petition pending before the high court on the subject matter shall stand transferred to the apex court and the interim orders passed in those proceedings, if any, shall stand modified in terms of the order.
Hearing the matter on December 6, the Supreme Court had observed that a similar issue had come up before it earlier and a three-judge bench had delivered a judgment, noting that the triple test must be followed before provisioning such reservation for the OBC category.
In March last year, the apex court had said reservation in favour of the OBCs in Maharashtra's local bodies cannot exceed an aggregate of 50 per cent of the total number of seats reserved for the Scheduled Castes, the Scheduled Tribes and the OBCs taken together.
It had referred to the triple condition noted in the Constitution bench verdict of 2010, including the setting up of a dedicated commission to conduct a contemporaneous rigorous empirical inquiry into the nature and implications of the backwardness qua the local bodies in the state.