Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray on Wednesday said that the Supreme Court verdict quashing the law granting reservation to the Maratha community in admissions and government jobs in the state was “unfortunate”. He also urged the Prime Minister and the President to take an urgent decision on the matter of granting reservation to the Maratha reservation.
The state may not have a right to take a decision on the matter as the apex court has said but the Centre and the President can take a call, Thackeray said. “With folded hands, I request the Prime Minister and the President to take an urgent decision. Earlier, the Centre had taken quick decisions on the Atrocities Act in connection with the Shah Bano case and on the abrogation of Article 370. It also made necessary amendments in the Constitution then. Now, the same promptness should be shown regarding the issue of Maratha reservation,” said Thackeray.
Thackeray further said that the decision to grant reservation to Marathas was taken based on recommendations of the Gaikwad committee and all political parties in the state legislature had unanimously agreed on it.
Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar also said that the SC decision was “unexpected and disappointing”. “We will study the verdict and take an appropriate decision on the matter,” he said.
Soon after the verdict was announced, protests erupted in different parts of Maharashtra, with the Maratha Kranti Morcha calling it an “unfortunate” decision and BJP seeking a special Assembly session to discuss the issue.
Maharashtra BJP chief Chandrakant Patil said, “This is nothing but a complete failure of the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government as it failed to convince the Supreme Court…It was the Fadnavis government which had appointed the Backward Class Commission, got its report and law approved in the state legislature and then convinced the high court which upheld the law. However, the MVA government could not ensure that law would be upheld in the Supreme Court. It failed to espouse proper arguments which could have convinced the apex court in upholding the law. It failed to highlight the exceptional circumstances under which the reservation was granted to the Maratha community.”
Demanding that a special Assembly session should be held to discuss the matter, he added, “Not just the fact that the government failed to convince the court, there was also confusion within its ranks as well…Its lawyers were seeking postponement of hearings in the Supreme Court while pointing out that their client (the state government) has not briefed them properly.”
MP Chhatrapati Sambhajiraje, who has been leading the community’s fight for reservation, said, “The verdict is unfortunate but the Maratha community will accept it as it has come from the highest court of the land.”
Calling for restraint from the community, Sambhajiraje added, “The state and the central government should find a way out of this. If other states could get reservation above 50 per cent, why can’t Maharashtra get it? We need to find out the loopholes and approach the court once again. We are going through a difficult period now. We have to save lives and therefore I urge people to observe restraint.”
Sambhajiraje, however, did not hold the state government responsible for the apex court verdict going against the Marathas. “While the earlier state government fought for upholding the law in high court, the present government has been also putting up a fight. Even the central government had also intervened into the matter,” he said.
Maratha coordinator Vinod Patil, who was one of the respondents in the case, said, “It is a very unfortunate decision. It is going to have far-reaching consequences not only in Maharashtra but also in other states.”
He added, “The Maratha community will continue to its fight. A review petition will have to be filed in the matter but how long will we remain caught in a legal hassle? Instead, the government should find a permanent out-of-court solution for this.”
Describing it as “black day” for the Maratha community, Vinayak Mete, one of the Maratha community leaders, said, “The verdict has come as a big blow to the youths of the Maratha community.”
Mete said state minister Ashok Chavan, who heads the cabinet sub-committee on Maratha reservation, should resign. “Chavan should put in his resignation as the government has failed to convince the Supreme Court as to why the law was important for the community. The Chief Minister should clarify now how he plans to deal with the situation vis-a-vis giving reservations for the community,” he said.
Pravin Darekar, opposition leader in state council, said, “The government failed on all counts. It did not show any fighting spirit. Its lawyers were confused while fighting the case. The verdict has spelt darkness for Maratha community.”
BJP spokesperson Ashish Shelar said, “Though the government has failed to get reservation for the Maratha community in the Supreme Court, we will extend support to it if it takes strong steps for getting reservation for the community.”