Bhubaneswar: Amid vociferous protests from the Opposition benches, the state Assembly on Wednesday passed the Odisha Panchayat laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021 fixing 50 per cent seat reservation limit for SCs and STs and 27 per cent for OBCs.
In the wake of court rulings directing the government to amend relevant provisions of the Odisha Grama Panchayat Act, 1964, the Odisha Panchayat Samiti Act, 1959 and Odisha Zilla Parishad Act, 1991, the state governmment has set ceiling limit for reservation of seats for SCs and STs at 50 per cent and 27 per cent for BCC.
As per Article 243-D of the statute, the State Government has the discretion of reserving seats for BCC and accordingly, the Odisha Grama Panchayat Act, 1964, the Odisha Panchayat Samiti Act, 1959 and Odisha Zilla Parishad Act, 1991 had to be amended to provide 27 per cent of reservation for BCCs in the elections to Panchayat Raj Institutions (PRI). Similarly, quota for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, as per provision of the Constitution, has been fixed in proportion to their population in Odisha. In some PRIs, the reservation of seats for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Backward Classes exceeds per cent.
The Orissa High Court, in an order, has instructed the government (No.17362/2016) to set upper limit of reservation of seats for the SC, ST and BCC and not exceed 50 per cent in deference to a judgment passed by the Supreme Court in the K Krishna Murthy case.
The State Government, however, moved the apex court through a special leave petition and challenged the orders of the Orissa High Court, but the court upheld the High Court’s order. Hence, the state government’s amendment was necessary to comply with the High Court orders, delivered on the basis of the Supreme Court verdict before the panchayat elections.