Seeking that a nine-member Bench of the Supreme Court should hear the Maratha quota issue, Maharashtra Minister Ashok Chavan on Friday said the existing 50% cap on reservations should be reconsidered.
Mr. Chavan, who heads a sub-committee of the State Cabinet on the issue, said the landmark Indira Sawhney case of 1993 was heard by a nine-member Bench.
“Maratha quota issue should not be linked to the Indira Sawhney case in which the Supreme Court ruled that reservations should not exceed 50%. This decision should be reconsidered. The Maratha quota case is being heard by a five-member Bench, which cannot overrule the verdict of a nine-member Bench,” the Congress leader told reporters.
Besides capping overall reservations, the Supreme Court in Indira Sawhney vs Union of India also laid down that economic backwardness alone can not be a criterion for quota.
The apex court has stayed the 16% quota for Marathas in education and jobs in Maharashtra. If the quota comes into effect, the total reservation in the State will exceed 50%.
Mr. Chavan, a senior Congress leader, also demanded that as in the case of reservations in Tamil Nadu (which exceeded 50%), the Union government should intervene and give “constitutional protection” to the Maratha quota.
“If the Maratha quota is upheld, the issue of reservation in several other States will be resolved,” Mr. Chavan said. He will request Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray to write to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on this issue, he added.
As the hearing in the Supreme Court will begin from January 25, the Cabinet sub-committee will hold a meeting with the State’s legal team in Delhi on January 11, he said.
On the issue of ally Shiv Sena’s demand to rename Aurangabad as Sambhajinagar, Mr. Chavan said it should be discussed by the coordination committee of the coalition.
“All parties have different views on the issue. When Atal Bihari Vajpayee was Prime Minister, he had said Ram Mandir (in Ayodhya) was his government’s priority but we (the BJP) don’t have majority (and therefore can not pursue the matter),” the Congress leader said.