The state government on Wednesday told the Bombay High Court that the objective of granting 16 per cent reservation to the Maratha community is to promote them in service and education, as graduate and post-graduates are without jobs in this country.
The state government began arguments on three petitions filed by advocates Jaishri Patil, Sanjeet Shukla and Dr Uday Dhople, along with others, challenging a notification published by the Government of Maharashtra on November 30, 2018, to provide 16 per cent reservation to members of the Maratha community in government jobs and educational institutions.
Senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the state, told the court that in Indira Sawhney & Others Versus Union of India case it was 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.
The Supreme Court by way of an illustration had observed that the 50 per cent limit can be crossed in cases of citizens living in fur-flung or remote areas, Rohatgi said.
Highlighting that there is no concept of far-flung areas today, Rohtagi said, “it (far-flung area) was considered long back when there was no amenities like electricity, so this exception does not survive”.
A division bench of Justices Ranjit More and Bharati H Dangre posed a query to the counsel that how can state grant reservation after the introduction of the 102nd Amendment on August 15, 2018.
The Amendment made it mandatory for the state to consult the National Commission for Socially and Educationally Backward Classes and gave the President the right to decide on reservation.
Rohatgi said that a particular section in the Socially Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC) Act, 2018, saves the declaration made under the Educationally and Socially Backward Category (ESBC) Act, 2014, so the 102nd amendment would not apply. He further said that Article 15 and 16 of the Indian Constitution also gives power to the state, in addition to the Centre, to identify and give benefit in terms of reservation.
Continuing the arguments for the state government after Rohatgi, Senior counsel V A Thorat told the court that there was no need of discussing the Act in the house, because this was the 2014 Act which was re-enacted in 2018.
Thorat added that there is sufficient data to show that the Maratha community comes under SEBC. He said that the state is looking at the future and is taking precaution to ensure that another community does not ‘bite the dust’.