The BJP on Sunday demanded that the Maharashtra State Commission for Backward Class (MSCBC) be reconstituted in wake of the Supreme Court commence day to day hearing from July 27 on pleas challenging the law granting reservation to Marathas in education and jobs in Maharashtra.
The law had granted 12 per cent reservation for the Maratha community in admissions to educational institutions and 13 per cent quota in government jobs. It was on the basis of a MSCBC report that the community was provided the reservation. However, petitions have challenged the law on the ground that it breaches the 50 per cent reservation threshold prescribed in the Indra Sawhney judgment of 1992.
While the MSCBC’s tenure had ended in January, the Maha Vikas Aghadi government is yet to decide whether to reconstitute the commission set up by the state to study the social and economic conditions of the community.
State BJP president Chandrakant Patil said, “At a time when Maratha reservation is before the Supreme Court, the absence of MSCBC is unfortunate.”
“Smaller communities seeking reservation also need to be taken up by the commission. The government’s indifference towards the Backward Class is evident. Allies Congress, NCP and Shiv Sena have neither held a single meeting nor initiated any step towards reconstitution of the commission, which is constitutionally mandatory,” he added.
Then chief minister Devendra Fadnavis had set up the MSCBC in January 2015. The commission had submitted a 1,035-page report in 2018 stating that Marathas were socially and economically backward, based on 25 key parameters drafted to determine their status.
PWD Minister and chairman of of the Cabinet sub-committee on Marathas, Ashok Chavan, said: “We are committed to Maratha reservation. The matter is before the Supreme Court. Till a verdict is given, there is no question of interfering in the legal matter. We are doing our best to ensure that best lawyers are appointed to represent our case before the SC.”
The Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC) Act, 2018 was enacted to grant reservation to the Marathas in jobs and admissions. The state legislature had unanimously passed a Bill providing 16 per cent reservation to the Marathas.
However, the Bombay High Court, while upholding the law last June, had held that 16 per cent reservation was not justifiable and said that quota should not exceed 12 per cent in employment and 13 per cent in admissions. Following this, the quota was reduced to 12 and 13 per cent for jobs and education, respectively.
A Cabinet minister from NCP said, “The MSBCB report is in public domain. Regular hearings will start in SC from July 27. If the situation so arises, the government can take quick steps to set up the commission. We are not ruling it out.”
“Also, all matters related to giving Marathas admissions in educational institutions or government jobs depends on the court’s verdict. Since the interim order has not stayed the HC decision upholding Maratha quota, it is a relief . However, we are closely monitoring the developments.”
Following the granting of the quota, it was announced in December 2018 that members of the community were to fill up 11,520 of the 72,000 vacant posts in the state government. However, not much has moved since then.
Ministers maintained that the recruitment process has been a long drawn process. “To expect the government to appoint 72,000 candidates at one go is not practical. Also, the Covid-19 pandemic, coupled with financial constrains, has affected the recruitment process,” said a minister.
Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi president Prakash Ambedkar argued, “The government is using some pretext or other to cover up its failure. Now its excuse is that the case is before SC. The question is where are the funds? How will it give jobs?”