MUMBAI: After the powerful Maratha community threatened to launch a violent protest for reservation, the state government had sought more time to clarify its stand over the issue in Bombay High Court.
The community had taken out 58 mammoth protest marches in several towns across the state two years ago to push for their demands, including reservation. Since the state government has not adequately responded, the agitation is being revived, leaders of the community leaders said.
On Friday, yet another protest march was taken out at the famous Tuljabhavani temple at Tuljapur in Osmanabad district. If the government continues to be evasive, the agitations could turn violent, the leaders warned.
The Bombay High Court, while hearing a PIL regarding Maratha reservation, asked the state government to inform how much time it would take for the Maratha head count the state and their economic status. The government, while saying that the work would take around one more month, sought some time for filing its reply.
Expressing displeasure over the delay and the request for three-month extension, the court granted the state time till August 14 to make its stand clear on the issue.
Petitioner Vinod Patil had approached the court in 2017 asking for an early decision on the issue. After the hearing, he said, "The present government in its various political rallies across the state and meetings has been saying that they support reservation. However, it is only when you come to court that you know that they are delaying the process."
Senior lawyer Ravi Kadam, representing the state, told the court that when the Maratha Reservation Bill was passed in 2014, there was no precise quantifiable data. So the matter was referred to the Maharashtra State Commission for Backward Classes headed by Justice M G Gaikwad.
"After that five social organisations were tasked with collecting the data and as you know the data is quite huge," said Kadam. "Even now, the data collection process is going on at the district and taluka levels. Today, it is being done in Pune district. The commission has to compile the entire data along with inputs from the Union government. Only then they will they be able to decide whether the Marathas are really backward or not and how much reservation is required.”
The process is likely to be completed by July 31, Kadam told the court.