Mumbai: On the third consecutive day of the hearing of petitions challenging the 16 per cent quota to Maratha community before the Bombay High Court, the Maharashtra government was on Friday accused of dividing the society into small fragments. The petitioners challenging the reservation to Marathas also questioned the rationale behind introducing the Socially and Educationally Backward Class (SEBC).
A bench of Justice Ranjit More and Bharati Dangre is seized with a bunch of petitions challenging the decision of the government to grant reservations to Marathas in government jobs and educational institutions.
Arguing on behalf of petitioner Uday Dhople, senior advocate Shrihari Aney questioned the constitution of the SEBC category. “The report submitted by the State Backward Class Commission (SBCC) concludes that Marathas and Kunbis are one and the same caste. It must be noted that the Kunbis are already included in the Other Backward Class (OBC),” Aney pointed out.
“When the report itself says that Kunbis and Marathas are same then ideally, the government should have included the Marathas into the OBC category instead of creating a special category of SEBC,” Aney argued. In his arguments, Aney, the former Advocate General of Maharashtra, said the government has destroyed the entire concept of equality, which is guaranteed by the Constitution of India.
Aney said, “The Constitution has a golden thread by way of Article 14, which speaks of right to equality. The decision of the government to create this SEBC is but an attempt to assault and destroy this Article.” “The government cannot divide the society into small fragments. The decision to create this new category is the best example of erecting narrow silos that shuts doors of equal job and education opportunities to the citizens,” Aney argued.
During the course of hearing, the former AG also claimed that by granting reservation to the Marathas, the government has just given them “permanent crutches” which the community will never be able to shed in future. He further argued that the government cannot violate the 50 per cent rule for providing reservation, which is a directive of the Supreme Court.
“When all other states have been adhering to the 50 per cent cap for reservation, the Maharashtra government cannot be an exception. The state, presently has 78 per cent reservation, so on this point itself, the quotas to the Marathas must be quashed,” Aney argued. In his submissions, Aney claimed, the data collected by the SBCC was contrary to its conclusion, that the Maratha community was educationally backward.
“The data collected by the commission has no reference to the educational backwardness of the community. However, in its final conclusion, the commission has said that the community is socially as well as educationally backward,” Aney pointed out. The bench has now adjourned the matter for further hearing next week, when the Maharashtra government will make its submissions and defend its decision to grant reservation to the Marathas.
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