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Mrunal Manmay Dash

Paving way for the Panchayat polls in the State, the Odisha Assembly on Wednesday passed the much awaited Panchayat Laws (Amendment) Bill 2021.

The Bill, which provides reservation ceiling at 50 per cent for SC, ST and OBC, has effectively cleared all the legal impediments restricting the conduct of the Panchayati Raj Institution (PRI) polls scheduled for early 2022.

As per the provisions of the bill, the upper limit of reservation in respect of SCs, STs and OBCs in ULBs should not exceed 50 percent. Similarly, the individual reservation of the OBC should not exceed 27 percent.

Earlier on Tuesday, the State Assembly had passed the Odisha Municipal Laws (Amendment) Bill 2021, limiting the total reservation of seats to 50 percent in favour of Scheduled Castes (SC), Scheduled Tribes (STs) and Backward Class of Citizens (BCCs).

However, the lone exception in the reservation rule applies to the schedule areas where the 50 percent cap in reservation would not be followed.

A scheduled area is a compact and reasonable size of the area (a district, block or taluka) with a preponderance of tribal population. In this case, the reservation for the ST seats can exceed well above 50 percent.

The 50 percent ceiling in favour of SC, ST and BCC together has been brought in compliance with the orders of the High Court in the light of decision of the Supreme Court in K. Krishna Murthy case.

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