Marathas should be included in OBC quota, petitioners tell Bombay HC

Sailee Dhayalkar
Maratha community was jubilant after the state Assembly passed the quota Bill. (Source: File Photo)

Also written by Om Marathe

THE MAHARASHTRA government's legislation to provide reservation to the Maratha community contravenes the principle of equality enshrined in Article 14 of the Constitution and also exceeds the settled position of a cap on reservations at 50 per cent, senior counsel Shrihari Aney told the Bombay High Court on Friday, while continuing arguments against the reservation.

Highlighting the findings of the Maharashtra State Backward Classes Commission (MSBCC) report of 2018, Aney argued that the report stated that Marathas and Kunbis are the same, and as the Kunbis are included in the Other Backward Classes (OBC), Marathas too should be brought into the OBC category. Aney added that once the state exceeds the 50 per cent cap on reservations, it is akin to encroaching on the remaining 50 per cent.

A Division Bench of Justice Ranjit More and Justice Bharati H Dangre were hearing final arguments in three petitions filed by advocates Jaishri Patil, Sanjeet Shukla and Dr Uday Dhople along with others, challenging the notification published by the state government on November 30, 2018, providing 16 per cent reservation to the Marathas in government jobs and educational institutions.

Aney argued that the state, by giving such a reservation to the Maratha community, has given them permanent crutches that they will never be able to shed.

Aney told the bench that an attempt to assail socio-economic backwardness has to be made for all communities, not selectively for the Maratha community alone. "The Maratha community is certainly backward, but so are many others. We have a problem with how the government has identified class," he added.

Calling the 16 per cent reservation as having been planned "without empirical evidence", Aney said the data collected by MSBCC through surveys had no proper reference to the educational backwardness of the community. Also questioning the rationale of providing additional reservations in education, Aney said that the purpose of the Maratha reservation Act was to address the question of getting employment in government services, which he insisted was unrelated to the former.

Aney said that reservation in educational institutions such as those of law, medical and engineering, was pointless as the graduates have little to do with government jobs. "The aim of the Act is only to address employment in government jobs. Thus, although the Marathas are actually educationally backward, providing for reservation in education is unrelated with the object of the Act," he added.