A day after the state cabinet decided to provide 16% reservation to Marathas in government jobs and educational institutions, a public interest litigation (PIL) has been filed in the Bombay high court challenging the same.
The PIL, filed by former journalist Ketan Tirodkar, says Marathas have been wrongly categorised as socially and educationally backward. It claims Marathas are not a caste, they comprise a linguistic group. Tirodkar adds Marathas are a dominant community, not a backward one.
Apart from chief minister Prithviraj Chavan and deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar, a majority of the education barons — DY Patil, Patang Kadam, Kamalkishore Kadam and Pawars of Vidya Pratishthan — belong to the Maratha community.
"Same is the scenario in sugar cooperatives & cooperative banks; 85% of sugar factories are owned/controlled by Marathas — Vasantdada Patil, Rajaram Bapu Patil, Vikhe-Patil, Pawar," reads the PIL.
The petition contends that nearly 75% of land in state is owned by the Maratha community. "Between 1962 and 2004, over 1,200 MLAs out of the over 2,000, ie 55%, were Marathas. More than 72% cooperative institutions are controlled by Marathas," it adds.
The PIL also argues that the state government's decision violated a Supreme Court order that had made it clear that reservations could not cross 50%.
The state government, decimated in last month's national election, had decided on June 25 to extend reservation meant for Other Backward Classes to Marathas; a five per cent quota was also added for Muslims.
The move comes as the state gears up for assembly election in October, leading to allegations that it's been pushed through as a vote-getter.
The PIL is likely to be heard on June 30 before a division bench of justices Abhay Oka and AS Chandurkar.