Suryakant Jena

Bhubaneswar/New Delhi: In a major setback to the Odisha government, the Supreme Court today rejected its plea challenging the Orissa High Court order on reservation of seats in urban local bodies in the State.

Upholding the High Court’s earlier order, the apex court has made it clear that reservations of seats for the scheduled castes (SC), scheduled tribes (ST) and other backward classes (OBC) in the state for forthcoming urban local bodies (ULB) polls cannot exceed 50 percent.

It is to be noted that the Supreme Court in its judgment in the K Krishnamurthy versus the Union of India in 2010, ordered that the 50 per cent ceiling could not be exceeded for urban local body election.

After it was found that the State Government had flouted the 50 percent cap in several ULBs during 2012 panchayat polls, 2013 urban civic body polls, and 2017 panchayat polls, the Orissa High Court while pronouncing the order of a case related to reservation of seats for Nuapada civic body, had also asked the State government not to breach the ceiling.

Election to as many as 93 civic bodies in the state is due and out of them, 55 have more than 50 per cent reserved seats.

While the term of 66 ULBs, including that of Berhampur Municipal Corporation will end on September 30, 2018, those of 20 others will end on December 4, 2018.

Similarly, the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation will be completing its term January 17, 2019, and the terms of the Cuttack Municipal Corporation and Baripada Municipality end February 13, 2019. The terms of the municipalities of Bolangir and Titilagarh will end on July 11, 2019, sources said.