After the Supreme Court struck down the reservation in government jobs and educational institutions for the Maratha community, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has now put the ball in the Centre's court. Thackeray said, "We request the Prime Minister and the President to take an immediate decision on the Maratha quota as they took regarding the abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu & Kashmir, Shah Bano case, and Atrocities Act, etc."
Earlier in the day, a five-judge Constitution Bench of the apex court, comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan, L N ageswara Rao, S Abdul Nazeer, Hemant Gupta and Ravindra Bhat pronounced its judgment in the Maratha reservation case. It said that that people from the Maratha community cannot be declared as educationally and socially backward community to bring them within the reserved category. It added that there was no valid ground to breach 50 per cent reservation while granting Maratha reservation. The bench was hearing a batch of appeals filed challenging the Bombay High Court order that upheld reservations to Marathas in jobs and education under Maharashtra Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC) Act, 2018.
Terming the top court judgment as "disappointing", Uddhav appealed to people of the Maratha community to maintain peace. He also thanked Rajya Sabha MP Chhatrapati Sambhajiraje for his level-headed reaction. The Chief Minister said that he will be writing a letter to PM Modi and President Ram Nath Kovind tomorrow, and added he was confident that his plea regarding the reservation will be accepted by the government.
Speaking regarding the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Uddhav acknowledged that the state is witnessing a downward COVID-19 graph. There were 6,98,354 active COVID-19 cases on April 25, now the number has gone down to 6,41,910, he said. However, the Chief Minister added that the cases are rising in Ratnagiri, Buldhana, Parbhani, Beed, Sindhudurg, Gadchiroli, Wardha, Chandrapur, and Satara districts.
Uddhav also said that his government has requested for additional 200 MT medical oxygen from the Centre. The state has also requested the Centre to allocate 10 LMO (liquid medical oxygen) tankers to enable the state to procure its allocated LMO quota from the steel plant at Angul in Odisha via the Roll On-Roll Off (RoRo) Oxygen Express, he said. The Chief Minister further launched "Mission Oxygen", an initiative to make the state self-sufficient in the production of the life-saving gas.
Uddhav also cautioned the state of a possible third COVID-19 pandemic wave. He has also asked the administration to be ready for the same. This comes after the Principal Scientific Advisor to Centre K Vijay Raghavan on Wednesday warned that a third COVID-19 wave is inevitable. "A phase three is inevitable, given the higher levels of circulating virus but it is not clear on what time scale this phase three will occur. We should prepare for new waves," he said.