Petition in Gujarat HC for SC status to Mahar community
Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkar, architect of the Indian Constitution belonged to this community and they are recognised in most states of country barring Gujarat
A petition has been filed in the Gujarat High Court by Ahmedabad based Lord Buddha Foundation seeking inclusion of the Mahar community in SC (Scheduled Caste) category.
Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkar, architect of the Indian Constitution belonged to this community and they are recognised in most states of country barring Gujarat.
The plea has challenged a March 1998 government resolution which prescribed May 1,1960 as the cut-off date for the residents of Gujarat belonging to Mahar community to be treated as Scheduled Caste.
“Doctor Babasaheb Ambedkar belonged to Mahar community and his own community is denied the status of scheduled caste and the reason given by the respondent state of Gujarat is incorrect, improper and illegal. Such a resolution that arbitrarily fixes a cut-off date is prejudicial, violative of the provisions of the Constitution of India and impinges upon the rights of thousands of persons belonging to the Mahar Community who reside in Gujarat,” senior advocate Anand Yagnik who appeared on behalf of the petitioner told the court on Wednesday.
The matter has been going on for the past 30 months and for the last 18 hearings, the government has not responded.
On Wednesday, the high court asked the state government to file its response by September 7, failing which strict action will be initiated against the official found responsible for it.
The petitioner has sought extension of benefit of reservation in education and employment to those who come from ‘Mahar community’ in Gujarat without the cut-off date of May 1, 1960, when it was part of the erstwhile State of Bombay.
The Lord Buddha Foundation is engaged in activities pertaining to the development and empowerment of the individuals belonging to the Mahar community in Gujarat.
The word Mahar is derived from the words ‘Maha’ which means great and ‘Rashtra’ means country or “people from the great country”. They proclaim themselves to be descendants of Mahamuni and place their beliefs in Lord Buddha, as per the petition.
The ‘Mahar Community’ is recognised as Scheduled Caste by the government of India as well as several states including Gujarat and Maharashtra.
In erstwhile un-divided State of Bombay, before May 1,1960, the ‘Mahar Community’ was notified and scheduled as Scheduled Caste and all those who belonged to ‘Mahar Community’ were provided with reservation in education as well as employment, as per the petition.
In the undivided State of Bombay, ‘Mahar Community’ was spread across the entire region of Mumbai State which later on came to be divided into as a part of state reorganization, state of Gujarat and state of Maharashtra.
After May 1,1960, Gujarat government has taken a decision that only those citizens belonging to ‘Mahar Community’ who were residing prior to May 1, 1960 in the Gujarat region of erstwhile State of Bombay can be provided with and extended the status of Scheduled Caste.
In 1936, the British government through the government of India (Scheduled Castes Order) recognised Mahars as a community belonging to Scheduled Caste. Part II of the Schedule enlists the scheduled Castes existing in the province of Bombay where the Mahar community finds mention.