Devendra Fadnavis
Devendra Fadnavis
Photo Credit: PTI

Former Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Wednesday expressed disappointment over the Supreme Court's verdict striking down Maratha reservation.

He said: "This is a very disappointing development. When we gave the reservation, the case went to the High Court and the court held this reservation to be constitutional. Later it went to the Supreme Court when I was the Chief Minister and the Chief Justice refused to stay the law."

He further said that normally an ordinance is stayed and not the law. Fadnavis further slammed the state government and said it has failed to pay attention to the case. "The state government did not pay requisite attention to this case. We did not see cooperation between the state government and lawyers," he said.

While addressing media, Fadnavis said, "It is our demand that the government should prepare a panel of senior counsels and formulate a report on the way forward. And an all-party meeting should be convened."

Meanwhile, State BJP president Chandrakant Patil demanded that the state government call an all-party meeting and a special session of the Assembly to discuss the issue.

"...It is a complete failure of the state government. It failed to convince the SC on why it was important to breach the 50 per cent ceiling on quota in extraordinary circumstances, which has been created in the state with regard to the Maratha community," Patil told reporters in Pune.

He said the previous Devendra Fadnavis-led state government had formed the Backward Class Commission which recommended to consider the Maratha community as backward on three fronts - social, economic, and educational.

The Fadnavis government then enacted the law (in 2018) giving reservation to the Maratha community in jobs and education, which was later challenged in the Bombay High Court.

"The Fadnavis government had successfully convinced the HC that Marathas account for 32 per cent of the state's population and how it was an extraordinary situation in the state," he said.

But, the present Maha Vikas Aghadi government in Maharashtra (comprising the Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress) has "completely failed the Maratha community", Patil claimed.

"Youth from the Maratha community should speak up on the issue and mount pressure on the state government," the BJP leader said.

He demanded that the state government call an all-party meeting over the issue.

"In fact, they should call a special Assembly session on the issue of Maratha quota and the COVID-19 situation in the state," he said.

Leader of Opposition in the state Legislative Council Pravin Darekar said the decision has come as a "complete disappointment" for the Maratha community.

"The law, cleared by both Houses of the state Legislature and upheld by the Bombay High Court, was struck down only because of this state government," he said.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday struck down the Maharashtra law granting quota to Marathas in admissions and government jobs, terming it as "unconstitutional", and held there were no exceptional circumstances to breach the 50 per cent reservation cap set by the 1992 Mandal verdict.

The top court also refused to refer the Mandal judgement to a larger bench for reconsideration, saying it has been upheld time and again by its various verdicts.

A five-judge constitution bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan concurred on three major issues, framed during the hearing, and said the MC Gaikwad commission report which was the basis for the Maratha quota did not highlight any exceptional circumstances for grant of reservation to the community.

(With inputs from PTI)

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