Maratha quota challenged in Bombay HC; state asks Supreme Court to hear its side first
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Maratha quota challenged in Bombay HC; state asks Supreme Court to hear its side first

Days after the Maharashtra government officially gave the Marathas a 16% quota in government jobs and education, the Bombay HC received the first petition challenging the government’s decision

mumbai Updated: Dec 04, 2018 08:42 IST
HT Correspondents
HT Correspondents
Hindustan Times
Maratha quota,Mumbai,Maharashtra

Days after the Maharashtra government officially gave the Marathas a 16% quota in government jobs and education, the Bombay high court received the first petition challenging the government’s decision. On Monday, a civil society group, the Indian Constitutional Council, filed a PIL in the HC.

Meanwhile, the state government on Monday filed a caveat in the Supreme Court requesting it not to pass any order related to the quota without hearing its side.

“Considering some people may challenge our decision, a caveat was filed by senior advocate Nishant Katneshwarkar on behalf of the state government in the Supreme Court,” said a senior official from the state general administration department. “The caveat will provide an opportunity to the state to file its say before the court decides to give any interim relief to petitioners.”

The state’s revenue minister Chandrakant Patil said on Monday the government has appointed senior advocate Harish Salve to represent its case in the Bombay high court.

Reservations in Maharashtra add up to 68%, well above a Supreme Court-mandated cap of 50%. The state decided to grant the Maratha reservations after the Maharashtra State Commission for Backward Classes (MSCBC) endorsed the community’s social, educational and financial backwardness.

The state made use of an exception in the SC’s ruling that said rules may need to be relaxed in case of extraordinary situations, and granted the quota under a separate class, called the Socially and Educationally Backward Class (SEBC).

The plea in the Bombay high court pointed out how the quota exceeds the 50% ceiling, and how a section of the Maratha community — the Kunbi-Marathas — had already been given a reservation under the Other Backward Classes (OBC) category. The plea said the additional reservations would only create a class within a class, affecting those who do not belong to any reserved category. The petitioner, Jayashree Patil, said the plea will be mentioned for urgent hearing as the reservations will impact medical admissions and government jobs.

Patil’s advocate, Gunaratan Sadavarte, said that the reservation was invalid, and that this quota meant the open category was left with only 32%.

“In 1984, the Maharashtra government had already made reservations for the Kunbi community, who are part of the Maratha group. Giving the Marathas another 16% reservation in education and jobs means creating a class within a class,” Sadavarte said. He said the Indian Constitutional Council had challenged the reservations in 2014 too, when the Congress-NCP government had announced a 16% reservation. The Bombay high court had struck down the quota then.

First Published: Dec 04, 2018 00:55 IST