: Observing that the issue of reservation for the Maratha community in the state is an “extremely complex” one, the Bombay High Court on Friday directed the Maharashtra government and all other parties litigating in the matter in HC to submit the synopses of their respective arguments.
A division bench of Justices Anoop V Mohta and G S Kulkarni directed all the parties to submit their written arguments by October 13 this year, following which, the Court will fix a date for final hearing in the matter.
The bench is presiding over two Public Interest Litigations opposing the then Congress-NCP government’s 2014 decision to grant 16 per cent reservation to the Maratha community in government jobs and educational institutions, and also over a bunch of applications in favour of the reservation.
In December 2014, in an interim order, HC had stayed the reservations and listed the matter for final hearing.
At the time, the Court had said that the Supreme Court had already laid down the law for reservation which cannot exceed 50 per cent of the total seats. In Maharashtra, 52 per cent seats in government jobs and educational institutions were already reserved for various backward groups and by introducing the 16 per cent Maratha and 5 per cent Muslim reservation, it was raised to 73 per cent.
The High Court had also held that the Maratha community “cannot be regarded as Backward Class and that the National Commission for Backward Class and Mandal Commission had concluded that the Maratha community is socially advanced.”
The litigants had then approached the Apex Court but they were sent back to HC and asked them to wait for the final hearing.
On Friday, the state’s counsel, senior advocate Ravi Kadam urged the court to allow two requests of the state— to “protect such students who have already been granted admissions under the reservation policy,” and to keep such government posts that are covered by the reservation policy, “vacant”—until the final order.
The PILs opposing the reservations have claimed that the government has “fraudulently” categorised Marathas as ‘socially and educationally backward’, and that it has violated the Supreme Court order regarding reservations by doing so.