Mumbai: The Maharashtra government would soon promulgate an ordinance to give effect to the Cabinet decision on quotas for Marathas and Muslims, the Bombay High Court was informed on Wednesday.
Advocate General Darius Khambata declared this in a statement before a bench headed by Justice Abhay Oka which was hearing two PILs challenging the reservations announced by the government recently.
The bench took the statement on record and deferred the matter to August 5.
The Cabinet had recently decided to allow 16 percent reservation for Marathas and five percent for Muslims in jobs and educational institutions.
One petition was filed by activist Ketan Tirodkar who had written a letter to the High Court last week that he had received death threats and would not attend the proceedings as he was going to an undisclosed destination. Accordingly, he did not come to the court today.
The bench told the Advocate General to urgently take up the matter of death threats to Tirodkar with the concerned police officials and ensure the safety of the petitioner.
Another petition was filed by Indian Constitutional Council through freedom fighter Dr Laxman Patil. According to his lawyer, Gunratan Sadavarte, the reservation announced by the state constitutes discrimination among the communities.
Lawyer Sadavarte cited three judgements of the Supreme Court, the Delhi High Court and the Jharkhand High Court each to argue that reservation above 50 percent was violative of the Constitution.
Generally, the logic applied for reservation is that the community should be socially backward or disabled. However, in the case of Marathas in Maharashtra, there is no such social backwardness or disability, he argued.
Although the state has proposed reservations for Marathas and Muslims, the PILs have challenged quota for the Marathas, saying they were not backward community.
Tirodkar`s PIL said the state`s decision to describe the Maratha community as socially and educationally backward is a fraud committed upon this country and its Constitution.
According to the PIL, terming Marathas as socially and educationally backward is a "mockery of the people of Maharashtra and of the community". This is so since Maratha is a linguistic group originating from the term Marathi.
"Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan and Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar are from this `socially and educationally backward community`. Ninety-nine percent of the former Chief Ministers of the state also hailed from the same community," the PIL pointed out.