Convince Centre to be party in SC on Maratha quota: Chavan to BJP

Minister accuses Devendra Fadnavis of misleading people on reservation issue

Maharashtra’s Public Works Minister Ashok Chavan, who also heads the Cabinet sub-committee on Maratha reservation, on Tuesday criticised the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and former Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis for misleading people over the Maratha quota issue and asked him to convince the Centre to be a party in the ongoing case in the Supreme Court, supporting the reservation.

“The Maharashtra government had issued a directive on May 4, in the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, to stop recruitment in all departments, except public health and medical education. We informed the apex court about it on Monday. But the BJP misled the people by claiming that the State government stopped recruitment from Maratha community,” Mr. Chavan said at a press conference.

Mr. Chavan said the Central government should become a party as the outcome of this case will impact the quota sanctioned by it for the economically weaker section. “The Maharashtra Assembly passed the Maratha quota Bill unanimously. It was nothing about party politics. Why can’t the State BJP leaders convince the Centre to be a party in the SC case?” he asked.

Mr. Fadnavis had on Monday said that he was surprised at the State government’s submission before the top court. To this, Mr. Chavan said, “Either some people do not understand the issue or they are deliberately misleading people.”

Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Maharashtra, submitted before the Supreme Court that as per a State government’s resolution (GR) on May 4, except for departments of public health and medical education and research, all the other departments should not undertake any fresh recruitment process.

Mr. Chavan said the government’s submission before the top court on Monday was a reference to the GR issued on May 4. “It is a clear indication that Mr. Fadnavis is misleading people over the issue.”

The minister further said Mr. Fadnavis also claimed that it was painful for him to know that the State would put recruitments on hold till the decision (of the top court) was out. “He must have forgotten that he made a similar assurance before the Bombay High Court in December 2018. I am keen to find out whether it pained Mr. Fadnavis to make such a submission before the court or not.”

The Socially and Educationally Backward Classes Act, 2018, was enacted to grant reservation to people of the Maratha community in Maharashtra in jobs and admissions to educational institutions.

The Bombay High Court, while upholding the law in June last year, said that 16% reservation was not justifiable and the quota should not exceed 12% in employment and 13% in admissions.

The SC is hearing a batch of petitions challenging the High Court order and the Maharashtra law granting reservation to Marathas in education and jobs.

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