OBC Reservation in Local Bodies

OBC Reservation in Local Bodies

This article covers “Daily Current Affairs” and the topic details “OBC Reservation in Local Bodies”. The topic “OBC Reservation in Local Bodies” has relevance in the Governance section of the UPSC CSE exam.

For Prelims:

key points regarding this decision?

For Mains:

GS 2: Governance

What are the General Arguments in Favor of OBC Reservation in Local Body Elections?

Arguments Against?


Why in the news:

The state government of Gujarat has recently increased the reservation for Other Backward Classes (OBCs) from the current 10% to 27% in panchayats and urban local bodies.


key points regarding this decision:

  • The decision was made based on recommendations from the Justice K S Jhaveri Commission, which was established following a 2022 Supreme Court directive aimed at suggesting measures for OBC (Other Backward Classes) reservation in local bodies in Gujarat.
  • The expanded OBC reservation of 27% will be applicable across all levels of local bodies, including municipal corporations, municipalities, gram panchayats, taluka panchayats, and district panchayats.
  • However, this increased OBC reservation will not be enforced in regions governed by the PESA Act of 1996, where the Scheduled Tribe (ST) population exceeds 50%. In such areas, OBC candidates will receive a reservation of 10%.
  • It’s important to note that the existing quotas for Scheduled Castes (SCs) at 14% and Scheduled Tribes (STs) at 7% remain unchanged, ensuring compliance with the 50% reservation cap mandated by the Supreme Court.


What is the Supreme Court’s stance on reservation in local bodies?

  • In a landmark decision by a five-judge Constitution Bench in the case of K. Krishnamurthy (Dr.) v. Union of India (2010), the Supreme Court interpreted Article 243D(6) and Article 243T(6), which allow for the reservation of seats for backward classes in panchayats and municipal bodies, respectively.
  • The Supreme Court also emphasized that the obstacles to political participation differ from those hindering access to education and employment, as seen in Article 15(4) and Article 16(4), which pertain to reservation in education and employment.
  • However, the Supreme Court clarified that while reservations in local bodies are permissible, they are contingent on empirical evidence of backwardness specific to these bodies. This determination is based on what is known as the “triple test,” comprising the following conditions:
  1. The establishment of a dedicated Commission to conduct a thorough empirical inquiry into the nature of backwardness in local bodies.
  2. The specification of the proportion of reservation required to be allocated on a local body-by-body basis.
  3. The assurance that such reservation does not exceed an aggregate of 50% of the total seats reserved for Scheduled Castes (SCs), Scheduled Tribes (STs), and Other Backward Classes (OBCs) combined.


What are the General Arguments in Favor of OBC Reservation in Local Body Elections?

  • Empowerment, Inclusivity, and Participation: Reservation offers OBC individuals a chance to actively engage in local governance, enabling them to voice their concerns, represent their communities, and play a role in shaping policies that affect their lives.
  • Relevance of Policies: Elected representatives from OBC backgrounds are more likely to comprehend the unique challenges faced by their communities and work effectively to address them.
  • Skill and Leadership Development: Reservation provides increased opportunities for individuals to acquire experience in leadership positions, public speaking, and decision-making.
  • Heightened Political Awareness: It fosters political awareness and engagement among community members, motivating them to participate more actively in the political process.
  • Long-Term Positive Impact: Advocates argue that over time, this approach may lead to a fairer distribution of resources, improved socio-economic indicators, and reduced disparities among various segments of society.


Arguments Against:

  • Caste-Based Division: Some critics argue that reservations based on caste perpetuate societal divisions, emphasizing differences instead of promoting unity.
  • Disadvantaged Groups Within OBCs: Concerns exist regarding varying levels of privilege within the OBC category, with some groups considered more privileged (referred to as the “creamy layer”) than others. Implementing reservations for the entire OBC category might lead to relatively more privileged groups benefiting disproportionately, while the most marginalized OBCs continue to be underrepresented.
  • Reservation Efficacy: Skeptics also raise doubts about the long-term effectiveness of reservations in genuinely addressing socio-economic disparities. They advocate for alternative approaches such as targeted welfare programs and skill development initiatives.
  • Impact on Local Governance: There are concerns that political considerations may take precedence over governance priorities when candidates are elected through reservations. This could potentially hinder effective decision-making and the overall development of local governing bodies.




Q.1 Local self-government is most accurately described as a manifestation of:

(a) Federalism

(b) Democratic decentralization

(c) Administrative delegation

(d) Direct democratic engagement



Q.2 Consider the following statements:

  1. To become a member of a Panchayat, an individual must be at least 25 years old.
  2. If a Panchayat is reconstituted due to premature dissolution, it will exist only for the remaining duration of its original term.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct? 

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 only

(c) Both 1 and 2

(d) Neither 1 nor 2



Q.3 “Discuss the evolving dynamics of reservation policies in India, considering the recent decision by the Gujarat state government to raise OBC reservations in panchayats and urban local bodies. Analyze the constitutional and social implications of such changes, and evaluate their impact on social justice and governance.”

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