Commission report for Maratha reservation was for jobs, not education: Petitioner
The terms of reference given by the commission in its report, based on which the state announced 16% reservation for Marathas, were pertaining to only government jobs, representation in public services and not education, a petitioner’s lawyer told the Bombay high court (HC) on the third day of arguments opposing the quota, on Friday.
Informing the bench of justices Ranjit More and Bharati Dangre, senior counsel Shreehari Aney, representing Dr Uday Dhople, challenged the state’s claim that as the Maratha community was educationally backward they needed reservations. The state had announced reservation for both jobs and education.
Aney said the data in the commission report was compiled by external agencies owned by Marathas and hence could not be relied upon, as it had not taken into consideration all communities and classes that needed reservation. He said even if it was to be assumed that Marathas are backward and need reservation in education, there was no quantifiable or scientific data to justify the quota.
Referring to the Indra Sawhney judgement, he said the Supreme Court has defined adequate and proportionate representation. In light of this definition and to maintain the 50% cap on reservation, Aney said reservation for the Marathas should be carved out from the OBC quota rather than giving reservation beyond 50%. He justified his submissions stating that it was possible that many communities in the OBC category had benefited from reservation and progressed, so were not in need of reservation anymore. In such a scenario, the reservation for such communities should be taken away and given to the Marathas. He said that nowhere in the Constitution was it mentioned that once reservation was granted to a community it could not be taken back. Hence, the Marathas should be given adequate representation and not proportionate representation from the reservation given to OBCs.
“Reservation is like a crutch. At some time, we should shed the crutches and climb up the ladder,” said Aney. He further stated there was no data wherein classification and representation based on proportion was available in the state, hence it was not possible to justify or refute reservations. When the bench questioned Aney as to whether the Kunbi community was different from Marathas, Aney submitted that though they were different, the Maharashtra State Backward Classes Commission (MSBCC) report put them at par and said that just as the Kunbis got reservation, the Marathas should also get reservation.
The court had questioned that in future if some other community also sought reservation, would they be accommodated in the OBC category. Meanwhile, Aney said though section 16 of the SEBC act stated that its enactment would not be applicable for admissions where the process had already commenced before the act came into force, the state had issued a list of medical colleges where reservation for Marathas in under and post-graduate courses had been mentioned. To this, the senior counsel for state, PA Thorat, said the state was prepared to argue the same if the court permitted it. The court, however, said the issue could be dealt with later.
Arguments by petitioners and intervenors opposing the reservation will continue on February 14 and 15.