EVEN as a five-member constitution bench set up by the Supreme Court is all set to hear the Maratha reservation issue on December 9, the Maratha Kranti Morcha has expressed the pressing need for well-coordinated action and an effective strategy from the state government to ensure that the bench finds merit in its arguments.
A key coordinator of the movement, however, said the state government is yet to make any move for effective coordination on the issue before approaching the constitution bench.
Two applications, one from the Maharashtra government and another from coordinator Vinod Patil, a key respondent in the case, has been listed at 2 pm on the same day. In its application, the state government has urged the constitution bench to vacate, in larger interest, the September 9 stay granted on the Socially and Educational Backward Classes (SEBC) Act, which gives reservation of 13 per cent in education and 12 per cent in government jobs to members of the Maratha community.
The SC had granted the stay during hearing of appeals against the Bombay High Court order upholding the constitutional validity of the SEBC Act. “The five-member constitution bench has been constituted on the state’s request,” Congress leader Ashok Chavan, who is the chairman of the state cabinet sub-committee on Maratha reservation, had said on Friday.
“The Maratha community is confident that the state government will go before the constitution bench well-prepared and with an effective strategy, so that the bench vacates the stay granted to the reservation issue. The community has been waiting for justice for a long time,” said Patil.
However, Patil said though he was one of the key respondents in the case, the state government had not contacted him to discuss the matter. “Neither government officers, nor lawyers or political leadership have contacted me to discuss the issue, or to put forth common arguments on the matter. It is important that there is no divergence in the views of the two applicants…,” said Patil, adding that even the Chief Minister’s Office has not contacted him. Patil has been fighting the reservation issue in courts for years and appoints his own lawyers for the purpose.
He said since the date of the hearing is not very far, he will approach the state government and urged it to discuss the issue to put out a joint argument. “Speaking in one voice in favour of the reservation issue will be crucial to get the stay vacated. Therefore, I will not wait for the state government to approach me. I will myself plead with the state government to discuss and form a common strategy and common arguments on the issue,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Sambhaji Brigade has urged the state government to apply the EWS category to the Maratha community. “The hearing in the Supreme Court is likely to drag on for a few months. If that happens, Maratha youth will be hit hard. We urge the state government to apply the EWS category to Maratha youth so that their lives are not thrown in turmoil. If this does not happen, we will be forced to agitate in Sambhaji Brigade style,” said Pravindada Gaikwad, state chief of Sambhaji Brigade.