The Maharashtra state unit of BJP has put the blame for the adverse judgment by the Supreme Court in the Maratha Reservation case squarely at the feet of the state government.
Earlier today, a Supreme Court bench comprising justices Ashok Bhushan, L Nageswara Rao, S Abdul Nazeer, Hemant Gupta and S Ravindra Bhat today stuck down the law giving reservation to Marathas.
The exact reason for the decision is not clear, as a copy of the judgment has not been released by the court yet.
However, Fadnavis said this was the result of fumbling by the state government and its legal officers.
“The government did not pay enough attention,” he said, urging the Uddhav Thackeray government to create a council of senior legal counsels and figure out a way to get around the judgment.
“Many times in the court, the senior counsels of the state government had to get up and say they didn’t get any instructions from their client and they have no information.”
He also pointed out that courts rarely stay an entire act or law, but only the orders/determinations given under it. But in this case, the court has done so.
Bahujan/Dalit activist Prakash Ambedkar called the Supreme Court decision unjust towards the millions of ‘poor Marathas’.
The quota was put in place by a government headed by Fadnavis two years ago, and was challenged in the Bombay High Court.
The High Court approved the quota, upholding the conclusion of a special commission headed Justice MG Gaikwad in 2018.
However, the Supreme Court said that was nothing in the Gaikwad Commission report to justify extending reservations to the Maratha community.
“Neither the Gaikwad Commission nor the High Court have made out any situation for exceeding the ceiling of 50% reservation for Marathas,” Justice Ashok Bhushan said.
Marathas are the largest ethnic community (jati) in Maharashtra and comprise around 30% of the state’s population.
Primarily an agricultural community, Marathas have found their representation to be on the decline in certain fields, such as higher education and government service, especially in the higher levels bureaucracy.
However, they are adequately represented in fields that do not require high levels of educational qualifications, such as politics. However, Maratha organizations have been asking for adequate representation in government service and higher education, pointing out that politics cannot generate employment or improve the lot of the community.
They are also worried that the community will fail to keep pace with others if its members do not get opportunities for pursuing higher education and enter fields such as IT and entrepreneurship.