The State Government has notified the amended Panchayat Acts to cap the reservation of seats in the three-tier panchayat system to 50 per cent for all the three categories comprising STs, SCs and OBCs.
On September 8 this year, the Odisha Legislative Assembly had passed the Bill. Governor Ganeshi Lal gave his nod on September 22 for converting the Bill into law. Accordingly, the Law Department has issued the notification of the Odisha Panchayat Laws (Amendment) Act, 2021.
The Act amended relevant provisions of the Odisha Grama Panchayat Act, 1964, the Odisha Panchayat Samiti Act, 1959 and Odisha Zilla Parishad Act, 1991, said Panchayati Raj and Law Minister Pratap Jena while piloting the Bill.
The amendments in the three Acts have been made to fix the upper ceiling of reservation of seats for SCs, STs and OBCs at 50 per cent.
Now, maximum 50 per cent seats can be reserved for the SC, ST and OBC persons in the direct or indirect elections for Ward Member, Sarpanch, Samiti Member, Block Chairman, Zilla Parishad Member and Zilla Parishad President.
As per Article 243-D of the statute, the Government has the discretion of reserving seats for OBCs and, accordingly, the Odisha Grama Panchayat Act, 1964, the Odisha Panchayat Samiti Act, 1959 and Odisha Zilla Parishad Act, 1991 have been amended to provide 27 per cent of reservation for OBCs in the elections to Panchayat Raj Institutions (PRIs).
Similarly, the quota for SCs and STs, as per provision of the Constitution, has been fixed in proportion to their populations.
The Government would first give priority to ST and SC populations in the reservation of seats for PRI election and the remaining seats, if left, would be reserved for the backward class citizens with a maximum ceiling of 27 per cent, sources said.