Karnataka Panchayat Raj ordinance set to lapse

The Karnataka Panchayat Raj Ordinance 2010, which had come under criticism for restricting the total reservation of seats for SC/STs and OBCs in the Panchayat Raj institutions to 50 per cent, is set to lapse next week.

During the legislature session which commenced on January 6 this year, the panchayat ordinance was not taken up for ratification. As per constitutional norms, all ordinances not ratified by the State legislature will cease to have effect at the expiration of six weeks from the date of re-assembly (of the legislature).

Silent death

It will be back to square one once the ordinance meets its silent death on February 21.

The Law Department officials, however, said the impact of the ordinance — like the reservation quota fixed for the recently held taluk and zilla panchayat election — will remain.

So what next ? It will be for the legislature to decide the reservation norms because the government is planning to table a bill with the same provisions incorporated in the ordinance during the budget session of the legislature, according to Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Minister Jagadish Shettar.

Legislature decision

“Let there be a debate on whether we have to abide by the Supreme Court order restricting the reservation to 50 per cent in panchayat bodies, or in the interest of social justice, restore 33 per cent reservation to OBCs. We will abide by the decision of the legislature,” Shettar said.

In other words, the onus will now be on the political parties to finalise their stand on the issue.

The government had promulgated the ordinance making suitable amendments to the Karnataka Panchayat Raj Act 1993 following a five-judge Bench order of the Supreme Court in the K Krishnamurthy Vs Union of India case, stipulating that reservation in panchayats cannot exceed 50 per cent.

In Karnataka, reservation quota in several districts exceeded 70 per cent.

However, the Opposition strongly criticised the October 4 ordinance on the grounds that the representation to backward classes would reduce drastically.

Not to be cut

The Supreme Court  order stated that the quota for SC/ST (based on their population) should not be cut. Following criticism from the Opposition on the reduction in OBC quota, a State Cabinet meeting held on November 9 decided to request the Governor to repeal the ordinance.

But Governor H R Bhardwaj turned down the government’s request as he felt that the issue should be decided by the legislature.

Then the government had no option but to conduct the ZP/TP elections with a 50 per cent cap on reservations.

*Oct 4: Ordinance restricting quota in panchayat bodies to 50 pc promulgated

*Nov 9: State Cabinet decides to request Governor to repeal the ordinance

*Nov 11: Governor returns the file sent by govt to repeal Oct 4 ordinance

*Nov 12: Govt resends the file and reiterates its request

*Nov 13: Governor rejects govt’s request for the second time

*Jan 6-13: Legislature did not ratify ordinance

*Feb 21: Ordinance set to lapse 

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