Bhubaneswar: Making roads clear for the urban election, the State Assembly on Tuesday passed the Odisha Municipal Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021 to keep the overall reservation in the various urban local bodies (ULBs) up to 50 per cent.
Housing and Urban Development Minister Pratap Jena has introduced the Bill, which was passed in the House today. Article 243T of the Constitution provides for the reservation of seats in municipalities. Accordingly, the Odisha Municipal Act, 1950 and the Odisha Municipal Corporation Act, 2003 provide for reservation seats for election to the extent of 27 per cent of in favour of the BCC in the State.
Similarly, for SC & ST, as per provision of the Constitution, reservation of seats has been made in urban areas of Odisha in proportion to their population in the respective urban areas. In view of the above statutory provisions, in some of the ULBs, the reservation of seats for SC, ST and backward classes exceeds 50 per cent.
In 2013, hearing a case, the High Court of Orissa had observed that the upper ceiling limit of reservation of seats for the SC, ST and BCC shouldn’t exceed 50% in accordance with the judgment passed by the Supreme Court in the K Krishna Murthy case.
Further, the HC asked the State Government to adhere to the principles laid down by the apex in K Krishna Murthy case in letter and spirit.
Following this, the State Government approached the Supreme Court through an SLP and subsequently through a review petition challenging the aforesaid orders of the High Court. The SC heard the cases and upheld the decision of the High Court of Orissa.
The aforesaid judgement of the courts and the Constitutional provisions relating to the subject do not demand any amendment in the Odisha Municipal Act, 1950 and the Odisha Municipal Corporation Act, 2003 so far as it relates to reservation of seats in urban elections for SC and ST Citizens. But, in order to comply with the decision of the High Court, delivered on the basis of orders of the SC, it has become expedient to limit the total extent of reservation for election in ULBs to 50 per cent.
In view of the above decisions of the courts, the State Government is left with no other option but to amend the relevant provisions of the Odisha Municipal Act, 1950 and the Odisha Municipal Corporation Act, 2003.
Therefore amendments of the Odisha Municipal Act, 1950 and the Odisha Municipal Corporation Act, 2003 have been made to fix the upper ceiling of reservation of seats for SC, ST and BCC to 50 per cent and the upper limit of reservation of seats for BCC not to exceed 27 per cent.
The government will first give priority to ST and SC population in the reservation and the remaining seats, if left, will be reserved for the backward class citizens with a maximum ceiling of 27 per cent, sources said.
Making similar provision, the state government has also introduced the Odisha Panchayat Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021 in the Assembly. The Bill has been introduced to make necessary amendment in the Orissa Grama Panchayat Act-1964, the Orissa Panchayat Samiti Act-1959 and the Orissa Zilla Parishad Act-1991 to reserve maximum 50 per cent seats in the Panchayati Raj Institutions for SC, ST and OBC.
The Assembly has also passed the Odisha Repealing Bill, 2021 to repeal 206 certain obsolete Acts which covers from the year 1974 to 2015. The principal object of the repealing Act is to lessen the burden of the Statute Book. Besides, the House also passed the Odia University (Amendment) Bill, 2021.