Arguing against reservation for members of the Maratha community in government jobs and educational institutions, senior counsel Pradeep Sancheti on Thursday told the Bombay High Court that the survey conducted by agencies on 43,000 families, based on which the Maharashtra State Backward Class Commission (MSBCC) concluded that Marathas are socially backward, is erroneous and cannot be relied upon.
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 Maharashtra government on November 30, 2018, providing 16 per cent reservation to the community.
Sancheti, appearing for petitioner Shukla, argued that the survey was conducted only on 43,000 families, covering two lakh people, which is not even 0.2 per cent of the total population of the state. The Rane Committee of 2014 (which also looked into Maratha reservation), had conducted a survey on 4.5 lakh people, Sancheti said, adding that the findings based on the current survey are erroneous.
Sancheti further told the court that the backward class commission had recommended 12 per cent reservation for the Marathas, but the state decided to give 16 per cent quota and gave no reason for this. He argued that the research was conducted by the commission in a way to include Marathas in the OBC category, but as this category cannot be disturbed because it would lead to agitations by OBCs, the state government came up with separate reservation for the Marathas.
Last week, senior counsel Arvind Datar had argued that the Supreme Court, in Indira Sawhney & Others vs Union of India, had held that 50 per cent reservation ceiling cannot be exceeded, except in exceptional cases like in extraordinary situations in far-flung and remote areas and if a special case is made out. Datar had said it was “certainly not for Maharashtra, because it is the most prosperous state”. He had added that Maharashtra has no peculiar conditions to show that the state must exceed the 50 per cent cap.
On Thursday, Sancheti told the court that the commission has made “zero efforts” to show exceptional circumstances or extraordinary situations, which made it arrive at a conclusion that Marathas are socially backward.