Sadavarte claimed that education minister Vinod Tawde had stated in the morning itself that judgment would be in their favour.
Mumbai: A division bench of Justices Ranjit More and Bharati Dangre, while upholding the reservation to the Maratha community, directed that the percentage be reduced to 12 or 13 per cent, as recommended by the State Backward Classes Commission (SBCC).
The court also rejected the argument made by petitioners that the state government had no right to give reservation and create a separate class of people since it amounted to the violation of the newly-amended constitutional provision.
“We hold and declare that the state government possesses legislative competence to create a separate category of SEBC and grant reservation,” the bench said. “We conclude that the report submitted by the SBCC was based on quantifiable data and had correctly classified the Maratha community as socially and educationally backward.” the bench added.
The court said it was aware of the past ruling of the Supreme Court that capped quotas at 50 per cent. “However, in exceptional circumstances, the 50 per cent (limit) can be exceeded if it is based on quantifiable data,” observed the bench.
After the judgment was passed, government counsel V.A. Thorat requested the court to allow admissions into post-graduate medical courses, where Maratha students have already been admitted as per the current reservation policy. The bench asked Mr Thorat to file a separate application on this matter.
Advocate Gunratan Sadavarte, one of the petitioners opposing the reservation, termed the decision against the principles of judiciary. He alleged that the judgement was influenced by the state government and demanded a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) inquiry into the matter.
Mr Sadavarte claimed that education minister Vinod Tawde had stated in the morning itself that judgment would be in their favour.
“The verdict is a national disaster unless the Supreme Court overturns it. Every state will quote this order as precedent. We will move the apex court immediately,” said Sanjeet Shukla, counsel of petitioner Youth for Equality, an anti-reservation NGO, established in 2006.
Mixed feeling among backers
Some of the petitioners and members of Maratha organisations present outside the high court Thursday welcomed the decision upholding reservation to the Maratha community.
A few of them said they would approach the Supreme Court to keep the reservation at 16 per cent after the high court decided to grant 12 to 13 per cent reservation only.
“We welcome the judgment. We will approach the Supreme Court for getting the reservation up to 16 per cent. This is a victory and we give credit for this victory to those who have sacrificed their lives during the struggle to get reservation for the Maratha community,” said Vinod Patil, one of the petitioners.
Nana Kute Patil, another petitioner, said, “We are happy that the court has not only granted reservation to us but also upheld the separate category created by the government. However, it is not the government which gave us reservation but the struggle of the community that has paid off and hence, the government should refrain from taking credit for today’s victory.”
Rameshwar Gite, the lawyer of one of the petitioners, said, “In fact, reservation to the community was much necessary as since independence, it is only the Maratha community which has been neglected being from the upper class. Eighty per cent of the farmers committing suicide are from the Maratha community.”