Can state panel decide whether Marathas are backward?: Bombay HC

Bombay High Court. Photo: Wikipedia
The Bombay High Court Monday sought to know from a group of petitioners whether the newly constituted Maharashtra Backward Classes Commission can decide if the Maratha community was backward or not.

The court was hearing a bunch of petitions challenging Maharashtra government's decision to grant 16 per cent reservation to the Marathas in government jobs and educational institutions.

"The petitioners may inform the court about their opinion on this on March 29," the bench headed by Chief Justice Dr Manjula Chellur said.

During the hearing, the bench was informed that on January 4 this year, the state government had come out with a notification to set up the state backward class commission.

One of the petitioners today said it should be left to the commission to decide whether the Maratha community was backward or not for the purpose of providing them the benefits of quotas.

The court then sought the response of other petitioners and posted the matter for further hearing on March 29.

The state government had in December 2016 filed a 2,500-page affidavit in support of its decision to grant reservation to the influential Maratha community in government jobs and educational institutions in the state.

In its affidavit, the government said 80 per cent of the Marathas were socially and economically backward. The government had sought vacation of the stay ordered by the high court on implementation of the decision.

The petitioners have opposed the then Congress-NCP government's decision in 2014 to grant 16 per cent reservation to the Marathas, insisting they did not qualify for it.

The state government affidavit includes four reports prepared by Pune-based Gokhale Institute on various segments of the community, including sugarcane cutters and migrant labourers, headload workers and maid servants to back the claim about their socio-economic backwardness.

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