By: Dhruti Dewangan
In the Supreme Court of India
|NAME OF THE CASE
|Vikas Kishanrao Gawali vs. The State of Maharashtra.
|Miscellaneous Application No. 902/2021 in W.P.(C) No. 980/2019
|DATE OF THE CASE
|21 October 2021
|Vikas Kishanrao Gawali & Ors.
|The State of Maharashtra & Ors.
|Hon’ble Justice A.M. Khanwilkar, Hon’ble Justice Dinesh Maheshwari & Hon’ble Justice C.T. Ravikumar
|Constitution of India,1950 Maharashtra Zilla Parishads and Panchayat Samitis Act, 1961
|Constitution of India,1950- Art. 243 -D(6), Art. 243-T(6), Art. 340, Art. 14 Maharashtra Zilla Parishads and Panchayat Samitis Act, 1961 – Section12(2) (c)
The present case is a Miscellaneous conclusion of a issue that has been heard by the Apex Court of India. Trio justices, A.M. Khanwilkar, Indu Malhotra, and Ajay Rastogi, announced the verdict in this matter. The decision was made on March 3, 2021. It basically talks about the section 12(2)(c) of the Maharashtra Zilla Parishads and PThe present case is a miscellaneous conclusion of an issue that has been heard by the Apex Court of India. The trio of justices, A.M. Khanwilkar, Indu Malhotra, and Ajay Rastogi, announced the verdict in this matter. The decision was made on March 3, 2021. It basically talks about Section 12(2)(c) of the Maharashtra Zilla Parishads and Panchayat Samitis Act, 1961. It provides for a 27-percentage quota of seats in elections for individuals from lower socioeconomic groups. The court had to decide whether or not the clause was in accordance with the judgement in K. Krishna Murthy v. UOI and Anr. The question in this scenario is how to determine the retrograde groups for the purposes of reservation. The State of Maharashtra, according to the Bench, did not follow the ruling in K. Krishna Murthy v. UOI.anchayat Samitis Act, 1961, it provides for a 27-percentage quota of seats in elections for individuals from lower socioeconomic groups. The court had to decide whether or not the clause was in accordance with the judgement in K. Krishna Murthy v. UOI and Anr. The question in this scenario is how to determine the retrograde groups for such purposes of reservation. The State of Maharashtra, according to the Bench, did not follow the ruling in K.Krishna Murthy v. UOI.
The case in hand is related to the verdict in K. Krishna Murthy v. UOI.
Krishna Murthy v. UOI is a landmark decision that addresses why key clauses in the Indian Constitution that provide for backward-class quota in local-self-government organizations are valid or not. The reserving policy indicated in the structure of the voting representatives of the panchayat and municipalities has been challenged in the Supreme Court of India. The applicant takes the provisions allowing the quota to the Hon’ble Court, alleging that they violate the values of equality and democracy, which are now part of the Constitution’s fundamental structural concept.
The question in present scenario is how to determine the reverse categories for the purposes of reservation. The Maharashtra Zilla Parishads and Panchayat Samitis Act of 1961, as well as the Indian Constitution, are both relevant in this case. The realities and concerns are strongly intertwined to the aforementioned Act and the Indian Constitution.
Except for Greater Bombay, the Maharashtra Zilla Parishads and Panchayat Samitis Act, 1961, covers the entire territory of Maharashtra. It will take effect from the date issued by the State Govt by announcement in the Official Notification. This legislation governs all aspects concerning zilla parishads and panchayats. It covers things like nominations, election, processes and many more.
The appeal in case also questions the State Electoral Commission’s announcement, which granted allocation over the upper level of 50%.
The State Election Commission is a self-governing statutory body that oversees elections for the third tier of government, which comprises Panchayats and Local Governing Bodies. The State Electoral Commission is made up of a State Election Commissioner who is appointed by the Governor for a five-year term and who can only be impeached in the same way and on the same grounds as a High Court Judge. The State Electoral Commission is in charge of supervising, directing, and controlling the conduct of elections to urban and rural local governments. It is also accountable for distinction of all seats and has the authority to register and permanently remove major parties within the territory. 
FACTS OF THE CASE
In the matter of Vikas Kishan Rao Gawali v. State of Maharashtra, the Applications are brought up. Several Writ Petitions request a judgement that the Maharashtra Zilla Parishads and Panchayat Samitis Act of 1961, Section 12 (2)(c), is unconstitutional. Furthermore, the accuracy of the Maharashtra Electoral Commission’s updates dated 27/07/2018 and 14/02/2020, which provide the kind of reservation quota of more than 50% in local self-governance elections in the municipalities of Washim, Akola, Nagpur, and Bhandara, and has been brought into question in this situation, and it’s been demand in these Petition Filed that they be invalidated and disregarded.
To highlight the surplus reserved proportion and members, a district-by-district graphic has been given. The ruling in the matter of K. Krishna Murthy v. Union of India is the foundation of this case. The applicants would argue that, based on the dicta in the abovementioned judgement, the respondents are no longer permitted to reserve more than 50% of seats in the relevant local bodies by granting reservation for SC/ST/OBC combined except in exceptional situation. This is the main point of contention in the current writ petitions. The clauses 243-D(6) and 243-T(6), it was decided in the stated verdict, didn’t offer instruction on how to designate the backward groups.
It was also concluded that identifying backward classes under reserving is a governmental duty, and that specialized commissions must be constituted to perform extensive statistical research into the basis and significance of backwardness, as required by Article 340. Political underdevelopment is not the same as social and economic backwardness. 
The court noted that not all of groups who have received reservation advantages in the realms of intellectual and work require it in the realm of local public, and that legislation on the subject of quota in local self-government should be undertaken. In this lawsuit, the constitutional legitimacy of Articles 14, 16, 243-D, and 243-T of the Indian Constitution is called into doubt. Furthermore, there was no established basis for determining the quantity of such reservations.
It was also held that state legislations could really not merely include a standardized and rigid number of seats for OBCs in regional authorities throughout the state, especially without a thorough investigation into the essence and impact of underdevelopment by an autonomous Body into the necessity of such reservation. To avoid violating the concept of affirmative defenses of reservation, this should be evaluated and could not be static.
Despite this judgment of fact and broader remarks and instructions made to all Provinces on the topic, the Maharashtra government did not revisit the laws already on the books that were in violation of the law proclaimed by the Landmark Judgment of this Court. In reality, a couple of writ petitions were filed in the Bombay High Court with solemn assurances on behalf of the State of Maharashtra that appropriate corrective steps, in light of this Court’s ruling, would be done in good faith. However, the position remains unaltered.
Thus, this writ petition was filed before the Supreme Court of India under article 32 of the Indian Constitution.
ISSUES RAISED BEFORE THE COURT
- Is it permissible for the state assembly to provide reservations to SC/ST/OBCs for further than 50% of tickets in the respective municipalities?
- Is it acknowledged in the cited judgement that it is appropriate to reserve tickets for OBCs to the degree permitted under the 1961 Act?
- Is it possible, under extraordinary circumstances, to increase the reservation to 50% of the total seats?
- Is the ruling in this instance aware that, to the degree permitted by the Maharashtra Zilla Parishads and Panchayat Samitis Act, 1961, it is acceptable to reserve tickets for OBCs?
ARGUMENTS FROM APPELANT SIDE
- According to the learned counsel of applicant, the act cited is violating the requirements of Articles 243D and 243T, as well as Articles 14 & 16 of the Indian Constitution.They presented district-by-district graphic chart to highlight the surplus reservation proportion and tickets in the indicated districts, which amount more than 50% of total seats.
- The learned counsel from appellants side argued that, based on the dicta in the judgement K. Krishna Murthy & Ors. v. Union of India, the defendants are no longer permitted to hold more than 50% of seats in the respective local bodies by giving reservation for SC/ST/OBC.
- The learned counsel mentioned that most essential factor is to help assess of weaker sections for the purpose of reservation by conducting a valid assessment of the nature and impact of backwardness in applicable municipalities through an impartial Commission.
- The learned counsel states, beside from this irrevocable statistical restriction, state authorities are required to meet additional prerequisites before allocating seats for OBCs in local governments.
- The learned counsel mentioned that State Government is making no attempt to establish a Commission to investigate the existence and effects of underdevelopment and afterwards act on the Statement.
- They also argued that the Section 12 of the 1961 Act prevents the defendants from reserving 27% of seats in the respective Zilla Parishads and Panchayat Samitis.
ARGUMENTS FROM RESPONDENT SIDE
- The learned counsel from respondents argued that reservations in support of OBCs, which are related to population, are extremely broad and if accepted, that argument will fly in the face of a dicta from this Court’s Constitution Bench, in which it was noticed and rejected.
- The learned counsel of respondents argued, that this Court should not accept the current writ petitions since they for same remedy were already standing well before High Court. They also mentioned that they have requested the High Court to determine the issue, but because the issue primarily concerns the scope of the declaration and desired action by the Constitution Bench of this Court in K. Krishna Murthy (supra) and their execution in letter and spirit, we believe it is appropriate to respond to the issue at hand.
- The respected counsel argued, this matter can and will be resolved on the grounds of the undeniable fact that, prior to directing the State’s Election Commission to reserve tickets for OBCs in local authorities.
- The Learned Counsel hinted in its sworn affidavit that the writ petition might be adjourned for further consideration. However, such a claim has indeed been made, particularly since the State already has filed a centralised affidavit in this Court, in addition to the detailed written entries filed after the conclusion of hearing arguments.
- The learned counsel stated that special leave appeal should be rejected based on the evidence & conditions of the matter at hand.
- Constitution of India,1950 –
- Article 14 – The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India
- Article 243 D (6) – Nothing in this Part shall prevent the Legislature of a State from making 153 any provision for reservation of seats in any Panchayat or offices of Chairpersons in the Panchayats at any level in favour of backward class of citizens
- Article 243 T(6) – (1) Seats shall be reserved for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes in every Municipality and the number of seats so reserved shall bear, as nearly as may be, the same proportion to the total number of seats to be filled by direct election in that Municipality as the population of the Scheduled Castes in the Municipal area or of the Scheduled Tribes in the Municipal area bears to the total population of that area and such seats may be allotted by rotation to different constituencies in a Municipality.(2) Not less than one-third of the total number of seats reserved under clause (1) shall be reserved for women belonging to the Scheduled Castes or, as the case may be, the Scheduled Tribes. 161. (3) Not less than one-third (including the number of seats reserved for women belonging to the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes) of the total number of seats to be filled by direct election in every Municipality shall be reserved for women and such seats may be allotted by rotation to different constituencies in a Municipality. (4) The offices of Chairpersons in the Municipalities shall be reserved for the Scheduled Castes, the Scheduled Tribes and women in such manner as the Legislature of a State may, by law, provide. (5) The reservation of seats under clauses (1) and (2) and the reservation of offices of Chairpersons (other than the reservation for women) under clause (4) shall cease to have effect on the expiration of the period specified in article 334. (6) Nothing in this Part shall prevent the Legislature of a State from making any provision for reservation of seats in any Municipality or offices of Chairpersons in the Municipalities in favour of backward class of citizens
- Article 340 – —(1) The President may by order appoint a Commission consisting of such persons as he thinks fit to investigate the conditions of socially and educationally backward classes within the territory of India and the difficulties under which they labour and to make recommendations as to the steps that should be taken by the Union or any State to remove such difficulties and to improve their condition and as to the grants that should be made for the purpose by the Union or any State and the conditions subject to which such grants should be made, and the order appointing such Commission shall define the procedure to be followed by the Commission. (2) A Commission so appointed shall investigate the matters referred to them and present to the President a report setting out the facts as found by them and making such recommendations as they think proper. (3) The President shall cause a copy of the report so presented together with a memorandum explaining the action taken thereon to be laid before each House of Parliament. 
Maharashtra Zilla Parishads and Panchayat Samitis Act, 1961
- Section 12(2)(c) – the seats to be reserved for persons belonging to the category of Backward Class of citizens shall be 27 per cent. of the total number of seats to be filled in by election in a Zilla Parishad and such seats shall be allotted by rotation to different electoral divisions in a Zilla Parishad: 3[Provided that, in a Zilla Parishad comprising entirely the Scheduled Areas, the seats to be reserved for the persons belonging to the Backward Class of citizens shall be 27 per cent. of the seats remaining (if any), after reservation of the seats for the Scheduled Tribes and the Scheduled Castes : Provided further that, the reservation for the persons belonging to the Backward Class of citizens in a Zilla Parishad falling only partially in the Scheduled Areas shall be in accordance with the provisions of clause (c)] : 4[Provided also that] 5[one-half of the total number of seats] so reserved shall be reserved for women belonging to the category of Backward Class of citizens.
The judgement was passed on 4 march 2021, as case stems from a complaint contesting Section 12 (2)(c) of the Maharashtra Zilla Parishads and Panchayat Samitis Act, 1961, that granted OBCs 27 % quotas in local governments. The lawsuit also questions the Maharashtra State Election Commission’s declaration, which allowed reservation over the top level of 50%. The Court said that the hurdles to education and work are considerably different from those that prevent people from joining political parties. 
This Court’s stance is exceedingly commendable. Both parties relied to the decision in K. Krishna Murthy v. UOI. The state government, on the other hand, did not abide by the ruling.
The Apex Court has ruled that now the State must pass a three-part test:
(I) To establish a specialised Commission to investigate the nature of backwardness via rigorous empirical research.
(II) To indicate the percentage of reservations that must be provided in order to avoid overbreadth.
(III) The total number of seats reserved for SC/ST/OBCs must not exceed 50% of the total number of seats available.
While announcing seats as booked for OBC in the relevant district assembly, the authorizing clause of section 12(2)(c) must be read further down to suggest that it may be used only if three conditions are met. The court declared the challenged notifications invalid and non-existent in law to the degree that it provides for OBC seat reservations. As a result, the electoral results of Candidates belonging are void in law, and the seats vacated as a result of such a proclamation must be replaced as soon as possible. In addition, the court found that state electoral commission’s declaration, to the amount that it provides OBCs with a reservation, is invalid or without legal power.
This decision largely dealt well with reserving of members for OBCs in politics, as well as the court was quite cautious in acknowledging that socially and economically backwardness are not the same as political weakness in the cited decision. Access to school and employment is hampered in quite different ways than access to state parties.
On date 2021.10.21 the judgement of miscellaneous application of case came out. Its miscellaneous application was disposed off and was declared that there is nothing else that needs to happen in this case. The State of Maharashtra then enacted an order, which was brought up. However, court will not discuss its efficiency or legitimacy in this hearing. All contentions accessible to the litigants will be examined when the matter is brought up in a proper proceeding.
This ruling, in my opinion, has a significant impact on society as it is both concise and clear. Although there is a disagreement between the government and the judicial system on the reserving of weaker sections, this judgement will surely help in progress. Creating committees to discover backwardness in local public is also an excellent idea, because every local body has different castes and situations, some of whom are backward in other municipalities but not in the relevant area.
I believe this case of Vikas Kishanrao Gawali vs. State of Maharashtra represents one of the landmark judgements of legal history. Also, the key legal provisions relating to reservation are carefully examined in this judgement. As a consequence, the appointment of commissioners and committees will ensure that the reservation’s benefits are uniformly distributed to the right classes of society. 
- See the constitution of India, 1950, Article 14
- See the constitution of India, 1950, Article 243(D)(6)
- See the constitution of India, 1950, Article 243(t)(6)
- See the Constitution of India, 1950, Article 340