The petitioners who have opposed reservations for the Marathas and the Muslims in Maharashtra, on Thursday argued before the Bombay high court that these communities were not backward, and Marathas were in fact dominant in many sectors.
Former journalist Ketan Tirodkar who has filed one of the public interest litigations against state government's election-year decision to provide reservations on Thursday stated that 75% of cooperative sugar factories in Maharashtra were controlled by Marathas.
Further, 75% of the educational institutions too were controlled by the same community, he said. Also, 75% of the land in the state was owned by the Maratha community, he added.
The people from the community form majority of the borrowers of Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank, and many loans of the bank had turned bad, leading to appointment of administrator, he said.
The division bench headed by chief justice Mohit Shah asked Tirodkar to provide data regarding the purported dominance of Marathas in economically strong regions of Satara, Sangli, Parbhani, Baramati, Pune and Karad, vis-a-vis other districts.
The Congress-NCP government, which is facing assembly elections next month, earlier this year took the decision to provide 16% reservations for Marathas and 5% for the Muslims.
Senior advocate Pradeep Sancheti, appearing for the NGO Youth For Equality, another petitioner, argued that as per the Supreme Court's guidelines aggregate reservations cannot exceed 50%, and a religion can not be a basis for providing reservations.
The government's argument is that these two communities were "socially and economically backward". Advocate General Darius Khambata said that as to the Marathas, the decision was based on the recommendations of a committee headed by minister Narayan Rane, while as to the Muslims, it was based on recommendations of Rajinder Sachhar committee and Mahmoodur Rahman committee.
The arguments would continue on Friday.