Bhubaneswar, Sep 8: Amid protest from opposition MLAs, the state Assembly today passed Odisha Panchayat Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021. The amended bill has capped the reservation for SC, ST and BCC in the rural local bodies at 50 per cent.
The State Government has the discretion of reserving seats for BCC to such extent as may be decided by the State Legislature. Accordingly, the Odisha Grama Panchayat Act, 1964, the Odisha Panchayat Samiti Act, 1959 and Odisha Zilla Parishad Act, 1991 provide for reservation seats to the extent of 27% of in favour of the BCC in PRI elections.
Similarly, for Scheduled Castes & Scheduled Tribes, as per provision of the Constitution, reservation of seats has been made in proportion to their population in the respective Panchayat areas. In view of the above statutory provisions, in some of the PRIs, the reservation of seats for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Backward Classes exceeds 50 per cent.
The High Court of Orissa has passed a common order and other similar cases and observed that the upper limit of reservation of seats for the SC, ST and BCC shouldn’t exceed 50% in accordance with the judgment passed by Supreme Court in the K. Krishna Murthy case. The State Government approached the Hon’ble Supreme Court through an SLP and subsequently through a Review Petition challenging the aforesaid orders of the High Court. Supreme Court heard the cases and upheld the decision of the High Court of Orissa.