Nagpur: During online hearing on Maratha quota issue before the Supreme Court’s constitution bench, city lawyers on Thursday strongly opposed the Maharashtra government’s move to grant 13% reservation to the community.
The lawyers were arguing for petitioner Devendra Jain, who challenged the state legislature’s competency to enact ‘Maharashtra State Reservation (of Seats for Admissions in Educational Institutions in State and for Appointments in Public Services and Post Under the State) for Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC) Act, 2018’.
Initially, the enactment had provided reservation to the extent of 16%, but was reduced by the Bombay high court to 12% for education and 13% in public service for SEBC candidates.
The lawyers led by Ravi Deshpande (Retired HC judge), Ashwin Deshpande and Hrishikesh Chitaley asserted that the SEBC reservation doesn’t stand the test of equality and can’t be permitted to operate and deserves to be stayed.
According to them, the state’s endeavour under Article 15 (4) and 16 (4) of the Constitution of India, 1950, is to achieve equality and not to deracinate and annihilate its notion.
Quoting the famous judgment in Indira Sawhney case, the lawyers contended that the Article 16 (4) is broader than Article 15(4) and not limited to SEBC. “The expression “backward class of citizens” employed under Article 16(4) include SCs, STs and all other backward classes of citizens, including the SEBC, who aren’t adequately represented in the services under the state.”
Pointing out that the Government of India brought into force the ‘National Commission for Backward Classes Act, 1993’, from February 1, 1993, the lawyers said its Section 2(a) defines “backward classes” as other than SCs and STs.
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“Its Section 2(c) defines “lists” prepared by the government from time to time for the purposes of making provision for the reservation of appointments or posts in favour of backward classes of citizens which, aren’t adequately represented in the services under the government and any local or other authority within the territory of India ,” they said.
Citing 102nd Amendment in the constitution, the lawyers said the state’s powers under Articles 16 (4) and 15 for making reservations are denuded in so far as SEBC are concerned, but for other ‘backward classes’ it remains same.