The Bombay High Court appealed to members of the Maratha community on Tuesday to refrain from resorting to violence or committing suicide over their demand for reservation in government jobs and education.
The community must remember that the high court has taken note of the situation, a bench of Justices Ranjit More and Anuja Prabhudessai said.
The court also directed the Maharashtra State Backward Classes Commission to complete the collation of data related to the community’s socio-economic status, its analysis, and submission of its recommendations to the state, “as expeditiously as possible”.
“The matter is sub-judice and we have taken note of the situation. Due process is being followed by the commission and the state, and members of the community must remember this,” the court said.
“We hope and trust that the members (of the community) will not take law in their hands, or resort to extreme steps such as taking their own lives,” the bench said.
The court said it had read news reports of several agitators having committed suicide and that it was “very concerned” about it.
“They must remember that human life is very valuable and cannot be lost just like that,” the bench said.
The court was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by the Maratha Kranti Morcha, seeking reservation and directions to the backward classes commission to submit its recommendations to the state on entitlement of such quota expeditiously.
Several petitions were filed in 2014 and 2015 after the then Congress-NCP government had granted 16 per cent reservation in government jobs and education to the Maratha community.
While some of the petitions had opposed the decision, two petitions sought immediate implementation of the quota.
The state’s counsel, senior advocate Ravi Kadam, informed the bench on Tuesday that the commission had completed the collection of data from government agencies, village panchayats and educational institutes.
It had constituted a three-member panel to analyse the data and it was likely to submit its report to the backward classes commission by September 5, he said.
Kadam said the commission will then need time at least till November 15 to submit its recommendations to the state.
“The community must remember that the government can’t do anything hurriedly. Unless it has the commission’s recommendations, the government can’t take any decisions. The community must appreciate this,” he said.
The bench, however, said, “We are very concerned about the situation. Considering the sensitivity of the issue, the commission and the state must act expeditiously.”
It directed the state to file a fresh progress report detailing the commission’s work, by September 10.
The politically-influential Maratha community, constituting around 30 per cent of the state’s population, has been agitating to press its demand for reservation in jobs and education.
The community had earlier taken out silent marches across the state to highlight their demands, prominently for reservation.
However, their latest round of agitation has taken a violent turn as protesters have resorted to violence and arson at separate places in Maharashtra.
A number of people from the community have committed suicide in support of the quota demand.
The Maratha outfits have also planned to launch a fresh round of protest from August 9 in support of their demand.