Maharashtra government to table Maratha reservation bill today?

Updated on Nov 28, 2018 08:15 AM IST

Cabinet sub-committee keen on 16% quota, but Fadnavis will have final say; action taken report on recommendations to be tabled today

MLAs from ruling and opposition parties protest for Maratha reservation at Vidhan Bhavan on Tuesday.(HT PHOTO)
MLAs from ruling and opposition parties protest for Maratha reservation at Vidhan Bhavan on Tuesday.(HT PHOTO)
Hindustan Times | BySurendra P Gangan, Mumbai

Amid hectic activities in the ruling camp to finalise the Maratha quota and the Opposition demand to make public the report of the Maharashtra State Commission for Backward Classes (MSCBC) on Tuesday, a senior minister said the cabinet sub-committee was considering 16% reservation for the community in government jobs and education, which will have to be finalised by the chief minister.

The action taken report (ATR) on the recommendations of the report will be tabled in the legislature on Wednesday, while the quota bill is likely to be tabled.

The committee met twice on Tuesday to discuss the quota issue. “CM Devendra Fadnavis will finalise the quota only after a round of deliberations,” said the senior minister. “It is a political decision. We will have to grant more or less the same percentage of reservation [as granted by the previous Congress-Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) government, which was set aside by the HC]. If we propose a quota of less than 16%, Maratha outfits will target us.”

Revenue minister Chandrakant Patil, who heads the cabinet sub-committee, met Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray to brief him about the decision. “He asked Patil to bring in the bill at the earliest. Uddhavji said the existing reservation should not be disturbed and decision on reservation for Dhangars, too, should be taken soon,” said a Sena functionary.

Meanwhile, the Congress-NCP sought to corner the government over the MSCBC report, as the meeting between key leaders from both the sides on Tuesday morning failed to resolve the stalemate. While Fadnavis pointed at section 14 of the MSCBC Act, which says the government should table annual report and action taken report, not making tabling of the report mandatory, Dhananjay Munde, Opposition leader in the legislative Council, quoted Article 340 of the Constitution that states tabling the report is mandatory. Former chief minister and Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan said MSCBC Act has mandatory provisions to make the report public and which the HC, too, had noted it in its order while striking down the reservation given by the previous government in 2014.

The ruling parties, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Shiv Sena, have ordered their legislators to remain present in the House when the ATR is presented. “Although the CM, on the eve of the winter session, announced that the report would be tabled, we realised that its findings and dissent notes by MSCBC members may provide ammunition to the groups opposing the reservation. Our intention is to make the reservation foolproof on legal grounds,” said a senior BJP minister. In the dissent note, a member has stated that it is difficult to prove social backwardness of Marathas in the absence of comprehensive door-to-door surveys.

“No report can be challenged in the court, unless a bill is passed by the legislature. The legislature is supreme and debates inside the houses are not subject to challenge. There is no point in claiming that the revelation of the content of report will jeopardise the fate of the reservation. We had offered to cooperate with the government by all means, but they failed to take us into confidence,” said NCP leader Ajit Pawar.

The BJP has alleged the Opposition was raking up a non-issue for political gain. “They are worried that we will get credit for granting reservation, as it will stand legal scrutiny, unlike the one given by them,” said BJP minister Girish Mahajan.

Maratha leader Balasaheb Sarate Patil said, “Although the incumbent government has scored over the previous one in making the bill foolproof, we fear it may not stand the legal battle as it is over and above the existing reservation. Marathas should have been put in the existing quota of OBC, and then the limit should have extended.”

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