The Bombay High Court on Friday stayed the ordinance brought in by the previous Congress government in the state to provide reservation \to the Maratha community in government jobs and educational institutions.
The order came while the court was hearing a bunch of petitions contesting the state Cabinet’s decision on July 9, reserving 16 per cent seats in government jobs and educational institutions for Marathas and five per cent seats for Muslims.
The total reservation in the state had thereby gone up to 73 per cent.
The Bench of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice M S Sonak also stayed five per cent quota for Muslims in government jobs but allowed reservation in educational institutions, except private ones, citing “abysmally low” educational achievements.
The court made it clear that those already given reservation will not be disturbed till the final outcome of the case. It observed that Marathas “were not” a backward community and the state did not have the power to exceed the 50 per cent reservation limit set by the Supreme Court.
In extraordinary cases, the reservation may exceed 50 per cent given the same is justified by the state, the bench said. Shortly after the court order, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said his government will appeal in the Supreme Court. “My government is committed to reservation for the Maratha community. If there are certain discrepancies in the law pointed by the High Court, we will take measures to make the necessary corrections. The lacuna will be addressed to ensure that the quota for the Maratha community comes into force,” he said.
The state had earlier filed an affidavit justifying its decision to offer reservation to the Maratha community, contending that reservation had been given twice to them in the pre-independence era but were withdrawn after independence.
The affidavit contended that 16 per cent reservation for the community was made on the basis of “compelling and quantifiable” data. “Even in the decision-making process it is clearly mentioned that earlier in the year 1902 as well as 1942 reservation was provided to the Maratha community as backward class but thereafter in the post-independence era such reservation was withdrawn. This resulted in educational, social and economic backwardness of the community and, therefore, prima facie, reservation is justified,” the state had said in its affidavit.
Social activist Ketan Tirodkar, who was the first to move a PIL against the state’s decision in June, had claimed that 85 per cent of the sugar factories in the state were “owned/controlled by Marathas”. In addition, 75 per cent and more land is owned by the Maratha community in the state and more than 72 per cent of co-operative institutions are controlled by Marathas, he had said.