The Maharashtra state government will constitute a committee of elected members with 40 per cent representation from scheduled castes and scheduled tribes to evolve a mechanism to stop any abuse of the Atrocities Act. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Friday said the Act itself will not be diluted. “The Atrocities Act will neither be dropped nor diluted. The Act which came into being to provide social security to SC/ST is necessary and will continue in its present form,” said Fadnavis.
The Maratha community has been alleging its misuse. The CM’s assurance on continuation of the Act has evoked wide debate in view of the Maratha rallies held across Maharashtra in the last four months. In their silent rallies held across 36 districts, Kranti Maratha Morcha, in its memorandum had urged the government to take measures to stop misuse of the Act. While acknowledging that total number of cases registered under Atrocities Act annually are between 1200 to 1400, the chief minister said, “I must emphasise that all memorandums of Maratha organisations have never demanded scrapping of the Atrocities Act. Instead, their plea is to take measures to stop its misuse.”
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He said, “Even Dalits/OBCs are not averse to the administration taking steps to curb its misuse.” He also said that Dalit/OBC leaders were not against quota for Marathas. “During my discussions with Dalits/OBC leaders, I gathered that they are not against Maratha reservation. Their only concern is that their own quota (Dalit/OBC) remains untouched.”
The state government reassured Dalits/OBCs that their reservation will not be affected because of a Maratha quota. Citing the example of Tamil Nadu exceeding the 50 per cent limit to accommodate backward communities, Fadnavis said, “When Tamil Nadu decided to give reservation to various backward communities upto 69 per cent, it substantiated it with facts and surveys to show the urgency for the quota.” Whether the state can give quota beyond 50 per cent is a matter pending in the Supreme Court. The chief minister said, “While supporting the 16 per cent reservation for Maratha community, we will ensure that the existing reservation of SC/ST/OBCs will not be tampered with.”
The Republican Party of India chief and Union Minister for Social Justice Ramdas Athavale said, “We also support action against those misusing the Atrocities Act. We are supporting the Maratha reservation.” A Kranti Maratha Morcha functionary said, “The Atrocities Act has become a weapon to blackmail one individual against another representing different communities. In rural areas the abuse of the Act is higher compared to cities. Its misuse should be stopped.” However, Dalit activists from Latur, Solapur and Aurangabad said the administration should note that often the politically powerful Marathas use the Dalits to slap Atrocities Act against their opponents to settle land or political disputes. They said the administration should treat each case in detail.