Fadnavis had misled people on Maratha quota: Ashok Chavan

With the Supreme Court on Wednesday striking down the Maharashtra law granting quota to Marathas in admissions and government jobs, state minister Ashok Chavan criticised former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis for passing the SEBC Act in 2018 without “due rights”.

The apex court struck down the law by terming it “unconstitutional”, and held there were no exceptional circumstances to breach the 50 per cent reservation cap set by the 1992 Mandal verdict.

“The Union government’s 102nd amendment had taken away decisions (read powers) of awarding reservation to the Maratha community because of which the erstwhile Fadnavis government framed the SEBC Act which has been quashed by the Supreme Court,” Chavan, who heads the state sub-committee on Maratha reservation, told a press conference.

“Passing a law when you had no such right amounts to misleading the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly and the council by Fadnavis as the then CM. This amounts to cheating the people by giving them false information,” he alleged.

The 2018 SEBC (Socially and Educationally Backward Communities) Act of Maharashtra was enacted to grant reservation to people of the Maratha community in the state in jobs and admissions.

The Bombay High Court, while upholding the law in June 2019, had held that 16 per cent reservation was not justifiable and the quota should not exceed 12 per cent in employment and 13 per cent in admissions.

Chavan said the SC has “stamped on the fact that Maharashtra state has no right to award any such reservation after the 102 amendment in the Constitution…”

“When the 102nd amendment was passed in Parliament, the Centre had assured that rights of states will remain untouched and that there will be no impact on the acts passed by states. However, the supreme court has refused this argument and set aside the Maharashtra government’s act of awarding reservation to the Maratha community,” the senior Congress leader said.

The 102nd Constitution amendment Act of 2018 inserted Articles 338B, which deals with the structure, duties and powers of the National Commission for Backward Class, and 342A which deals with the power of the President to notify a particular caste as SEBC and power of Parliament to change the list.

The top court had on March 8, framed six questions for adjudication while terming the issue of interpretation of the 102nd constitutional amendment as of seminal importance.

Meanwhile, another minister in the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government and NCP chief spokesperson Nawab Malik said, “The ball of Maratha reservation is now in the Centre’s court. The state government is ready to submit a recommendation of awarding reservation to the Maratha community.

“….Either the Union government reinstate the state’s rights to grant reservations through the court as assured on the floor of Parliament or it should set up a backward (classes) commission. The state government will submit its recommendations seeking reservation for the Maratha community to the commission,” he added.

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