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For way around SC verdict, community leaders suggest adding seats, jobs only for Marathas

Sambhajiraje Chhatrapati, while appealing to the community to maintain calm, said the only option left is ‘supernumerary quota’.

Written by Manoj Dattatrye More | Pune |
May 6, 2021 12:13:33 am
Devendra Fadnavis, Sambhajiraje ChhatrapatiBJP's Devendra Fadnavis and Maratha community leader Sambhajiraje Chhatrapati. (File Photo)

As the Supreme Court verdict scrapping Maharashtra’s law for Maratha reservation ignited fresh debate, community leaders such as Sambhajiraje Chhatrapati and BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis suggested solutions to still ensure reservation for the community.

Sambhajiraje, while appealing to the community members to maintain calm, said, “I think the only option left is supernumerary quota.” Under the supernumerary quota, seats can be added to the existing lot in educational institutes by the state government, he explained.

“The government is very much within its powers to do this. It does not require the court’s permission. This has been earlier done in case of students from the North-East; for displaced students from Kashmir; and for Marathi students from Mauritius,” he added, “Such addition of seats does not affect other students in the reserved and unreserved categories.”

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He said he was making this demand for months. “I discussed this with the state government,” he claimed, “It should have been done much earlier. We would not have faced this problem.”

Another Maratha leader, Vinod Patil, supported the demand, “If the government implements the supernumerary quota system, we don’t have to approach any court or the central government. The government needs to create more seats in educational institutions and add jobs to the existing vacancies to accommodate the Maratha community.”

Patil said the only solace from the SC verdict is that the law has been scrapped with effect from September 9, 2020, which means admissions and jobs given already under the law are protected.

Former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) suggested that a committee of legal experts drawn from both the Supreme Court and the High Court be constituted. “The committee should study the verdict and submit a report, which should be placed before an all-party meeting, after which a strategy should be made,” he said.

Fadnavis alleged that there was lack of coordination between the government and its lawyers. “The lawyers were repeatedly seeking adjournment of the hearing while pointing out that they were not properly instructed or informed by their client, the state government,” he said.

State cabinet minister Ashok Chavan of the Congress, however, refuted the allegation. “We have continuously held meetings and discussions with the Maratha community leaders as well as our legal team. Such number of meetings were never held in the past,” he said.

But Fadnavis was steadfast in his criticism of the state regime. He said that “ganimi kava” or “guerrilla tactics” were lacking. “By ‘guerrilla tactics’ I mean that we have to place our arguments in such a manner that that they stand out, while the arguments of the opponent are caught on weak grounds. In future, we will have to plan on these lines,” he said.

Constitutional expert Ulhas Bapat, meanwhile, said, “The Supreme Court verdict was along expected lines… (that) it would not allow reservation to exceed the 50 per cent ceiling. The court in a way has given finality to the issue.”

Now the option, said Bapat, is to file a writ petition, and not just seek a review. “I am not in favour of a review petition as 90 per cent of the time they get rejected. Under a writ petition, the state government can argue that in the last 70 years many social changes have taken place, so the idea of 50 per cent reservation ceiling does not hold water in the current circumstances. On these grounds, the government can seek up to 60 per cent total reservation,” he said.

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