The Shiv Sena-led Maha Vikas Aghadi government faces legal and political challenges, following the stay granted by the Supreme Court on the 12 per cent reservation in education and 13 per cent in government jobs for 2020-21. The apex court has not stayed the implementation of the Socially and Educationally Backward Classes Act, 2018. This has triggered pro-reservation organisations to stage protests across the state. Some of them have hinted that a state-wide agitation will be launched if the reservation and benefits therein were not restored at the earliest. Few leaders from the ruling Shiv Sena, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Congress said today’s judgement is like ‘the skeleton remains while the heart disappears.’
Various organisations, representing the politically influential Maratha community, reminded the state government the agitation comprising 56 morchas that they had organised in 2016 and 2018 and hinted that a similar stir will be launched.
The apex court order prompted Public Work Minister Ashok Chavan, who is the Cabinet Sub Committee Chairman on the Maratha reservation issue, to react and send out a message to the Maratha organisations and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in particular that the government is serious and prepared for a legal battle. “The interim order passed by the Supreme Court while referring the matter to the Constitution Bench was unexpected, shocking and surprising. An application will be made to the Chief Justice on Monday, seeking revocation of the interim order,’’ he said.
Chavan said a meeting will be held in the presence of Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Thursday to decide the future course of action. “Although the apex court has accepted the state government’s plea to refer the Maratha quota petition to the Constitution Bench, it is incomprehensible to stay the 12 per cent reservation in education and 13 per cent in the government jobs for 2020-21,’’ he noted.
However, BJP has slammed the MVA government and said it is a ‘black day’ for Marathas. State BJP president Chandrakant Patil claimed that the state government was ‘not serious’ in ensuring that the quota held its ground before the apex court. He also charged Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and NCP president Sharad Pawar for not paying attention to the matter.
However, Chavan rebutted these charges, saying that political parties (without naming BJP and other parties) want to politicise the issue. “If BJP and other parties were so serious about the Maratha reservation, they should have filed a petition to intervene and have compelled the central government to take a positive stance in this regard,” he noted.
Maratha Kranti Morcha coordinator Vinod Patil, who was the respondent in the case, claimed that the state government was not serious since day one in this matter. “The apex court has ruled that Maratha reservation will not be applicable in medical courses and jobs. However, how it will be implemented will be known only after the order is received,” he noted.
A petitioner in the case, Dr Balasaheb Sarate, said that the apex court has not considered the merit of the case. “The apex court has not pointed out any legal flaw in the judgment delivered by the Bombay Court in June, 2019, upholding the SEBC Act, 2018. The Maratha community is totally disappointed with today’s order and there is every possibility of a fresh agitation to restore benefits,” he viewed.