The state informed the Bombay High Court (HC) on Wednesday that a Government Resolution (GR) on providing Marathas 16 per cent reservation in government jobs and educational institutions will be issued within a week.
Advocate General Darius Khambata conveyed this to the division bench of Justices Abhay Oka and AS Chandurkar, which is hearing Public Interest Litigations (PILs), one of which challenges the reservation on grounds that Marathas are not a caste but comprise a linguistic group. The PILs have been filed by former journalist Ketan Tirodkar and an NGO called the Indian Constitutionalist Council (ICC) through their member Dr Laxmanrao Patil, a freedom fighter.
The bench also directed advocate Khambata to look into an alleged death threat Tirodkar had received after filing the PIL.
On June 25, the state government had announced that it had approved a proposal to provide 16 per cent reservations to Marathas and 5 per cent to Muslims.
Gunaratan Sadavarte, advocate for the ICC, argued that the reservation was a violation of earlier Supreme Court orders which said that reservations cannot cumulatively cross 50 per cent. "If you go beyond 50 per cent, it amounts to reverse reservation," said the advocate.
Moreover, reservations were provided to scheduled castes and scheduled tribes not only because of their bad financial status, but also due to their low social status, argued Sadavarte.
Sadavarte also informed the HC that some miscreants had thrown ink on Tirodkar's face at the last hearing on June 30, and that he had not come this time due to the death threat he had received. The judges said that they had received a letter from Tirodkar and asked advocate Khambata to look into it. "His letter said that he would be unavailable for the hearing due to a threat to his life," said Justice Oka. Khambata assured the court that he would look into the matter and ask the police to take action.
According to Tirodkar's PIL, the Marathas were wrongly categorised as 'socially and educationally backward'. Tirodkar has also stated in the PIL that Marathas are a dominant community, not a backward group. Apart from chief minister Prithviraj Chavan and deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar, a number of education barons like DY Patil, Patangrao Kadam, Kamal Kishore Kadam and the Pawars who run Vidya Pratishthan belong to the Maratha community.
The HC asked the government to respond to the ICC's PIL and fixed the next date for hearing on August 5.