Mumbai: The Supreme Court’s order cancelling the reservation in education and government jobs for the Maratha community was unfortunate and the news had come at a time when the Maharashtra Government is engrossed in combating the coronavirus, said Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray. The apex court order was unwelcome, he said, adding that he was requesting the Centre 'with folded hands' to step in, showing the same urgency as it had done in the case of Article 370 and some other matters.
“It is our sincere request with folded hands to the Prime Minister and President of India to take an early decision on Maratha reservation. In the past, the Centre has swung into action and acted promptly in the Shah Bano case, the Atrocities Act and cancellation of Article 370, by amending the Constitution of India. The Centre needs to show similar urgency in case of Maratha quota,” the CM noted. However, he said, nobody should try to incite people.
Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar said the ruling was unexpected, disappointing and incomprehensible. Pawar assured that the state government would compensate the Maratha community after the apex court had scrapped the 12 and 13 per cent quotas in education and government jobs respectively.
He said the state government and Maratha organisations had strongly defended the restoration of the Maratha quota. “The government will compensate for what has been denied by the apex court. The government will not allow injustice to be done to any section of society in the state.”
“When in various states, reservation is beyond 50 per cent, it is unthinkable that Maratha reservation was not upheld in Maharashtra. The government will study the apex court ruling and decide on its future course of action,” Pawar said. He called upon Marathas to show restraint and maintain peace. “It is our responsibility not to endanger the lives of the community members during the present Covid crisis but protect lives during the pandemic. The state government will continue to take every possible step to ensure fair rights to the Maratha community,” he said.
Public Works Minister Ashok Chavan, who heads the cabinet subcommittee on Maratha quota, criticised former Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis for passing the Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC) Act in 2018 without due rights. “The Union government’s 102nd amendment had taken away decisions (read powers) of awarding reservation to the Maratha community because of which the erstwhile Fadnavis government framed the SEBC Act, which has been quashed by the Supreme Court,” he noted.“Passing a law when you had no such right to do so amounts to misleading of the Maharashtra Legislature by the then CM Fadnavis. This amounts to cheating people by giving them false information,” he alleged.
Chavan said the apex court had emphasised that Maharashtra had no right to award any such reservation after the 102nd amendment in the Constitution. Thackeray said reservation had been provided to farmers, a hardworking Maratha community, to protect its self-esteem. “The Supreme Court has now overturned the decision, which was taken unanimously by all political parties in the state legislature. In other words, the Maharashtra government does not have the right to decide on this reservation,” he said.
“The apex court has also rejected the state government’s decision to provide quota based on the recommendations of the Gaikwad Commission. The government took the decision amid outcry from the Maratha community. In a way, the SC order indicates that the state has no right to provide quota but it is the right of the Central Government and the President of India,” Thackeray said.
Meanwhile, BJP leaders had this to say:
Raosaheb Danve, Union Minister of State for Food and Consumer Affairs:
The Maha Vikas Aghadi Government never appeared serious about the reservation issue. The Fadnavis government succeeded in convincing the high court that reservation was justifiable when a community with the population size of 32 per cent was proved as backward. As such, the 50 per cent limit of the reservation should be overlooked. The MVA government failed to convince the apex court on the basis of the same argument.
Devendra Fadnavis, Leader of the Opposition in State Assembly:
The scrapping of the reservation by the SC is sad. This happened because of the sheer failure of the state government. The SC had asked for a translation of the1,500 pages attached to the backward class commission report as appendices. Both Ashok Chavan and Nawab Malik, ministers in the MVA government have been misguiding the people of the state. You cannot put the blame our government to hide your failures.
Chandrakant Patil, state chief of BJP:
The Congress and NCP avoided offering reservation to the Marathas while they were in power, from 1999 to 2014. The real momentum was given by our government after 2014 and it was ensured that it passed the legal test before the Bombay High Court. Benefits of the reservation reached the community and now the SC decision of annulment has come, which is the failure of the MVA government.