Maratha Reservation: Plea in Bombay High Court picks holes in Maharashtra government bill

Mumbai: A fresh Public Interest Litigation (PIL) has been filed in the Bombay High Court challenging the decision of the Maharashtra government to give 16 per cent reservation to Maratha community in government jobs and education. The petition claims the bill, by which the reservation has been granted, is illegal as the report, recommending the quota, has not been placed before the legislative assembly.

Advocate Sanjeet Shukla, who had blocked the reservation to Marathas and Muslim in 2014, has once again moved the HC, with ‘renewed’ information. He has filed this fresh petition through senior counsel Pradeep Sancheti and advocate Ashish Mishra. The plea will be mentioned before the bench of Chief Justice Naresh Patil on Friday.

According to Shukla, the bill granting reservation is illegal as the report of the State Backward Class Commission (SBCC) is yet to be tabled before the state assembly. “Education Minister had told reporters that if the report is tabled then some people might challenge the same before the court. This is arbitrary conduct of the government,” Shukla has said in his petition.

“In a democracy this cannot happen. If at all the government claims its decision is legal, then it should place the report before the court and also house,” Shukla has stated. Shukla has further challenged the reservation granted on the basis of the conclusion of SBCC. The commission, appointed by the government, last year, has in its report concluded Marathas are ‘socially and educationally’ backward.

“The findings clearly show Marathas are economically sound and thus, there is no point in giving them reservation as they can afford to pay for their education. The government should instead, focus on the betterment of those communities, which might be otherwise sound but low on the financial front,” the plea reads. In his petition, Shukla has also highlighted the ‘dominance’ of Marathas by providing data on the stakes held by the community in sugar factories, cooperative banks etc.

According to Shukla, the government has messed up in calculating the percentage of population based on religion/caste. “The government claims the population of SC ST communities in 70 per cent and so they are given 50 per cent reservation. Now, they claim the population of Marathas is 30 per cent and Muslims constitute 10 per cent of the total population. The total as per the government is 110 per cent, excluding open caste,” Shukla has said. “This mess makes it clear the government lacks an authentic data and does not have accurate census based on religion/caste,” Shukla has claimed.

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