Taking steps to issue OBC certificates to eligible Marathas: Maharashtra govt. tells HC

The government is sensitive to the situation,’ the Advocate-General told the Bombay High Court while cautioning against activist Manoj Jarange-Patil’s hunger strike, which entered its fifth day

February 15, 2024 08:03 am | Updated 10:35 am IST - Mumbai

Maratha activists participate in a bike rally in Karad on Wednesday to press for reservation.

Maratha activists participate in a bike rally in Karad on Wednesday to press for reservation. | Photo Credit: PTI

The Maharashtra government on Wednesday told the Bombay High Court that it was taking “all necessary steps” to include eligible Marathas in the Other Backward Castes (OBC) category by granting them Kunbi caste certificates.

The statement came as Maratha quota activist Manoj Jarange-Patil ‘s hunger strike on the issue entered its fifth day.

Advocate-General Birendra Saraf told a Division Bench comprising Justices A.S. Gadkari and Shyam Chandak that though it had not even been 20 days since the State government issued a draft notification stating that eligible Marathas would be included in the OBC category, Mr. Jarange-Patil had “already launched a hunger strike”.

The two-judge Bench was hearing a petition filed by activist Gunaratan Sadavarte, who in his plea said that Mr. Jarange-Patil’s ongoing agitation was causing a repeated disruption of law and order.

‘Law follows timeline’

“The last time people [Mr. Jarange-Patil and his followers] marched to Mumbai, the State took steps, including issuing a notification calling for objections to amend the rules. The law has a certain timeline. In situations like this, a continuous fast will lead to various situations which will become difficult,” the advocate-general told the court, adding that the State government has “always been sensitive” to the situation.

“The government is taking all steps to amend the rules to issue Kunbi caste certificates to persons from the Maratha community,” he said.

The government was also concerned about Mr. Jarange-Patil’s health, and he should accept medical assistance, Mr. Saraf further said.

Ramesh Dubepatil, Mr. Jarange-Patil’s lawyer, told the court the activist was being administered saline.

The court has listed the matter for further hearing on Thursday.

Mr. Jarange-Patil called off his massive protest march to Mumbai in January after the government came out with a draft notification stating that if a Maratha person has proof to show that he or she belongs to Kunbi community, the person’s ‘sage-soyare’, or blood relatives, would also get the Kunbi caste certificate.

On February 10, he launched a fresh hunger strike, seeking a special session of the Maharashtra Assembly to convert the draft notification issued by the Social Justice Department into law.

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