Bombay HC stays quota for Muslims, Marathas

Reservation exceeded the 50 per cent limit set by SC

Bombay HC stays quota for Muslims, Marathas

In a major embarrassment to the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), the Bombay High Court on Friday stayed the decision of the previous Democratic Front government to provide 16 per cent reservation to Marathas in government jobs and educational institutions.

The court also stayed the decision to provide 5 per cent reservation to Muslims in government service, but allowed quota for them in educational institutions.
The two decisions—based on a report of a committee headed by former industries minister Narayan Rane—were taken by the then Prithviraj Chavan-led government ahead of the Maharashtra Assembly elections. Both Congress and NCP leaders highlighted them in the run-up to the polls.

With the additional 21 per cent quotas for the politically influential Maratha community and Muslims, reservation in government jobs and educational institutions in the state had gone up to 73 per cent—way beyond the 50 per cent limit set by the Supreme Court.
In July, the then governor K Sankaranarayanan had put a stamp of approval on an ordinance in this regard.

However, the move was challenged in the Bombay High Court in PILs filed by social activist Ketan Tirodkar, an NGO Youth for Equality, Anil Thanekar, Dr I S Gilada of Indian Health Organisation and others.

Admitting the petitions, a division bench of the Bombay High Court, consisting of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice M S Sonak, said the apex court had already laid down the law for reservation.

“The decision has been stayed,” said journalist-turned-activist Tirodkar after the verdict. The government had pointed out in court that it had taken into consideration recommendations of the Rajinder Sachar Committee and Mahmoodur Rahman Committee, both of which had recommended reservation for Muslims, while arriving at the decision to provide quota.

Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said on Friday that his government would move Supreme Court on the Bombay High Court order. “The state government is fully supportive of the Maratha quota. We will appeal in the Supreme Court against the high court ruling. We will take measures to ensure that the quota remains,” said Fadnavis, adding that if there was any lacuna in the law, it would be removed.

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