Senior NCP leader Chhagan Bhujbal on Tuesday urged Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis to take immediate legal measures to ensure the OBC quota remained untouched. He urged the chief minister to appoint legal experts to take up the OBC issue in court.
“There are public interest litigations in the Bombay High Court related to OBC quota. If there is any decision which is detrimental to OBC interests, it would lead to law and order problems,” Bhujbal said.
“The state government should exercise all caution and take immediate legal measures to avoid any unrest within the OBC community,” Bhujbal, who represents the OBC community in Maharashtra, said.
“The government should appoint senior legal experts like Ram Jethmalani, Mukul Rohatgi, Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Gopal Krishna Subramaniam or Aspi Chinoy,” he added.
Last month, a PIL was filed in the High Court questioning the OBC quota and seeking a review. In response, the court asked the Maharashtra government if it had conducted any survey or study before issuing a notification in 1967 where several castes were included in OBC category for reservation.
The PIL was filed by activist B A Sarate, who has challenged the inclusion of several castes in OBC category. The matter was before the division bench of Chief Justice N H Patil and Justice N M Jamdas.
According to the PIL, of the 96 castes included in OBC category, almost 40 per cent were not eligible for the quota. The petitioner has also challenged the government resolution (GR) enlisting 180 castes and sub-castes for inclusion in OBC category. It also questions the March 1994 GR, which enhanced the OBC quota from 14 per cent to 32 per cent.
The petition alleges that OBC quota was given without any quantifiable data. There was no study to determine the social, educational and economical backwardness, it said.
Although the court has not given the final verdict, Bhujbal believes the government should intervene as it was a sensitive issue concerning 52 per cent of Maharashtra’s population. “It is unfortunate that the PIL challenging the OBC quota has been admitted in court,” Bhujbal said. “In the past when the OBC reservation was implemented, the Backward Classes Commission was not in existence. But the Mandal Commission, which was appointed by the government of India, had carried out a detailed study before giving its nod for the OBC quota. Moreover, a nine-judge bench after thorough scrutiny and deliberations gave its nod for the OBC quota,” he added.
Bhujbal urged Fadnavis “the state government’s lawyer should place in court the right perspective and facts on which OBC quota was sanctioned and enforced several decades ago”.
“I urged Fadnavis to ensure there is no stay on existing OBC quota in the name of review following the petitions. Any such move could invite massive unrest from the community, which does not auger well for the law and order situation in the state.”