The Bombay High Court asked the Maharashtra government Thursday what prompted the Maratha community to agitate for reservation only in the recent past.
A division bench of Justices Ranjit More and Bharati Dangre was hearing a bunch of petitions challenging the state government’s decision to grant 16 per cent reservation to the community in government jobs and educational institutions.
The demand for Maratha reservation was not raised after the Mandal commission submitted its report in 1980 or when the state backward classes commissions submitted their reports, the court said.
“What was the sudden change in scenario in the recent past that prompted the state government to seek data on the condition of the Maratha community?” Justice Dangre asked.
“After the Mandal commission report, there was no violence or agitation by the community demanding reservation. What happened suddenly that prompted such protests?” she asked.
The state government’s lawyer V A Thorat said the community was realising only now that it was being neglected.
“The previous governments, whom the Maratha community was voting for, made the community think and live under the perception that they were forward. But now as time passed by, the community has started feeling that they are backward and need protection,” he said.
“We are only correcting the mistakes committed in the past,” Thorat added.
The Mandal commission’s findings on socially and educationally backward classes, submitted in 1980, were valid only for two decades, he said.
“Hence in 2014, the state government felt the need to get quantifiable data on the condition of the Maratha community. This is why the state backward classes commission was set up,” Thorat said.
If required, the government may also include other communities in the socially and educationally backward class in the future, the government lawyer added.
The state backward classes commission was set up as the National Commission for Backward Classes had not carried out any survey in Maharashtra before concluding that the Maratha community was “forward”, Thorat said.
He also argued that under the Constitution, no court can inquire into the proceedings of a legislature.
“Article 212 prohibits the judiciary from going into the procedure followed by the government while formulating an act. The judiciary can inquire and ensure that the act does not violate any law,” Thorat said.
On November 30, 2018, the Maharashtra legislature passed a bill granting reservation to the Marathas following an intense agitation by the community.