GS Paper 2
Syllabus: Mechanisms, Laws, Institutions and Bodies constituted for the Protection and Betterment of these Vulnerable Sections
Direction: The article highlights the triple test formula to provide OBC reservation in ULBs and discusses the need to have a caste-based census.
Context: The judiciary has repeatedly established that caste population surveys conducted by the states are insufficient to provide for political reservation in local body elections.
- The Allahabad HC recently dismissed the UP government’s caste census to count the Other Backward Class (OBC) population across the state, ruling that “counting of heads” is insufficient.
- The UP government had ordered (in 2017) a “rapid survey” to count the population of OBCs ward-wise in each municipal corporation, municipal council, and panchayat area.
- The HC, while directing that local body elections be held in UP without any reservation for the OBC, added that the State had not followed the “triple test formula” as suggested by the Supreme Court.
- This comes as the call for a caste census intensifies in India, with several states considering introducing reservations for the Backward Classes in urban local body elections.
What is the Triple Test Formula to provide OBC reservation in urban local body (ULB) elections? It requires a state government to –
- Set up a dedicated commission for a rigorous empirical inquiry into the nature and implications of backwardness specifically with respect to local bodies;
- Specify the proportion of reservations required for political representation based on the commission’s recommendation;
- Ensure total reservations for SC/ST/ OBC groups do not exceed 50% of the total seats.
The case of UP:
- The Allahabad HC noted that the government’s enumeration exercise does not provide for inquiry into the political representation of the backward class.
- The court stated that the dedicated commission must also ascertain underrepresentation in municipal bodies (if any).
Similar case: The Patna HC had made a similar point on distinguishing the social and education backwardness of a group from its political backwardness.