HC strikes down over 50% reservation order for women in Chennai civic polls

Chennai: The Madras High Court on Tuesday struck down an order providing reservation for women over and above the 50 per cent cap in the Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) elections.

The first bench of the Madras High Court represented by Acting Chief Justice Munishwar Nath Bhandari and Justice P.D. Adikesavalu struck down the order while hearing a petition by Advocate R. Parthiban, challenging the validity of the government order.

The petitioner said that 105 of the 200 seats in the Chennai corporation were allotted to women and said that it was unconstitutional and against the law.

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The Court has directed the state election commission to provide reservation to only 50 per cent of the seats to women for the Urban local body elections.

The petitioner was represented by senior advocate S. Prabhakaran who argued that in 2016, municipal laws were amended to provide 50 per cent reservation for the women in the local body seats.

He argued that of the 200 seats in the Chennai Corporation, 105 were reserved for women, both in Scheduled Caste and General category. He said that as per the general reservation policy, only 84 seats would have been allocated to women in the general category, and said that flouting norms, 89 seats were allocated to women in the general category.

He said: “The phrase not less than 50 per cent should not be construed to mean that reservation for women can be provided beyond 50 per cent.”

The senior advocate pointed out that through a government order issued in 2019, 16 seats of the corporation have been reserved for Scheduled Caste women, 16 seats for Scheduled Tribe women, and 89 seats for General category women, and argued that this was unconstitutional and amounts to discrimination against men.

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