maharashtra: Maharashtra bills on local body polls may face legal scrutiny

The Maharashtra Assembly has passed two bills that will make it mandatory for the state to redraw ward maps, prepare electoral rolls and for the State Election Commission to consult the state government before finalizing the poll dates.

The Assembly on Monday unanimously passed the Mumbai Municipal Corporation Act and the Maharashtra Municipal Councils, Nagar Panchayats and Industrial Townships Act as well as the Maharashtra Gram Panchayats and Zilla Parishads and Panchayat Samitis Act.

The Supreme Court recently quashed the state’s decision to reserve 27% wards in local bodies for OBCs. With all parties agreeing that local body elections should not be held before the OBC quota is reinstated, the state government introduced two bills that mirror similar enactments in neighboring Madhya Pradesh.

Constitutional expert Ulhas Bapat said, “There are some constitutional problems with the Bill. Prima facie, they have been passed in haste. A bill that extends the term of an elected body and curtails the powers of the Election Commission, deserves judicial scrutiny. may face.” “The Election Commission is a constitutional authority to conduct free and fair elections. Taking away its powers may be violative of the basic structure of the Constitution. It cannot stand the test of law,” he said.

The Supreme Court order had said that the OBC quota should be based on rigorous empirical data and specify the proportion of reservation. The total reservation should not exceed the 50% quota limit prescribed in Indira Sawhney case also.

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