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Fadnavis, BJP-Sena leaders hail HC ruling on Maratha quota

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Press Trust of India Mumbai
The ruling BJP-Shiv Sena combine leaders in Maharashtra led by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis Thursday hailed the Bombay High Court's decision to uphold the validity of reservation granted to the Maratha community in government jobs and education in the state.
Speaking in the Legislative Assembly, which is having its monsoon session, Fadnavis said it is a matter of happiness that the HC has upheld his government's decision to grant quota to the community.
He informed the Lower House about the HC ruling and thanked political parties and Maratha organisations for their support to the government over the issue.
Making a statement, Fadnavis saidthe quota law passed by the state legislature was challenged in the HC, where it was heard for a long time.
He said the court subsequently upheld the legislative competence of the legislature to formulate the Maratha quota law.
The HC has also endorsed the quantifiable dataof the State Backward Class Commission (SBCC) based on which the Maratha community was declared socially and educationally backward and given quota in jobs and education, the CM said.
The court has upheld the extraordinary and exceptional circumstances mentioned in the SBCC report to provide quota to Marathas due to which the total reservation quantum in the state has crossed the 50 per cent level, he said.
The chief minister said as per the quantifiable data, the court has said 12 per cent reservations should be given to Marathas for education and 13 per cent in jobs.
Finance Minister and BJP leader Sudhir Mungantiwar also hailed the HC ruling.
On the HC's suggestion that the quantum of quota be reduced from 16 per cent to 12 or 13 per cent, Mungantiwar said the government will study the order and decide steps to ensure the existing level of reservation for Marathas in jobs and education is maintained.
"We are very happy that validity of the reservation stood test of the court. The government had put forth its side on the issue after studying everything.
"It is the position of the government that the reservation should be 16 per cent. So, the government will study the order and take next course of action accordingly," he told reporters on the premises of Vidhan Bhavan.
The government will take all necessary steps to ensure 16 per cent quota for the community, the BJP minister said, when asked about whether the government will fight the case in Supreme Court in case the HC's order is challenged there.
Environment Minister and Shiv Sena leader Ramdas Kadam seconded Mungantiwar.
"The reservation given by the previous government (of Congress-NCP) could not stand scrutiny of judiciary. But the High Court has agreed to the validity of the quota our government has given. We are very happy," Kadam said.
On the court seeking reduction in the quota percentage, Kadam said the issue will be discussed with the chief minister.
Asked whether the HC decision will have a bearing on the BJP's prospects in the upcoming Assembly polls, Housing Minister and party leader Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil said the government's measure was aimed at ensuring justice for the community and not to derive any political gain.
With this decision, the government's credibility will further strengthen among other communities, Vikhe Patil said.
"It was a very historic decision. The court's decision is a tribute to those who had laid their lives seeking the quota," Vikhe Patil said.
BJP MLA Pravin Darekar heaped praises on Fadnavis for taking steps to grant quota to the community when the previous Congress-NCP government had "failed" to ensure the same.
Shiv Sena leader Narendra Patil dubbed Fadnavis as "spunky" and extolled him for handling the massive silent marches taken out by Maratha community members in the last few years seeking reservation in jobs and education.
In the Assembly, group leaders of the Shiv Sena, the the NCP, the SP and the Congress congratulated the government over the HC ruling.
The Congress and the SP demanded 5 per cent quota for Muslims, but Fadnavis rejected the demand, saying the Constitution doesn't allow religion-based reservation.
Speaking in the Assembly, he said Muslims are already covered under the quota for economically weaker sections (EWS).
Social backwardness is the basis for providing reservations, Fadnavis said and pointed out that Christians and Muslims don't have caste system and hence don't qualify for quota benefits.
He said backward sections in Muslim and Christian communities are already covered under the OBC quota.
Mohammed Arif Naseem Khan (Congress) saidMuslims are not demanding reservations based on religion.
"A majority of Muslims are socially backward," he said and added that the 5 per cent quota provision for Muslims in the state was upheld by the High Court earlier.
Meanwhile, members of the ruling parties distributed sweets as they celebrated the court's order.

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First Published: Jun 27 2019 | 6:20 PM IST

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