MUMBAI: The Bombay High Court Thursday said it cannot stop petitioners from accessing annexures of the Backward Classes Commission's report on Maratha quota.
The petitioners were free to go to the state secretariat and inspect the hard copy of the annexures, the court added.
The petitioners informed a division bench of Justices Ranjit More and Bharati Dangre that while they were given a copy of the commission's report, they were refused copy of the annexures, which were part of the commission's report.
"The annexures are also an important part of the commission's report and its findings, as they comprise statistical data collected by the commission on the basis of which it recommended reservation for the Maratha community," argued advocate Gunaratan Sadavarte, appearing for one of the petitioners.
Senior counsel V A Thorat, appearing for the government, told the court that the annexures were voluminous, running into 35 volumes.
"The government is yet to scan it. The petitioners are free to go to 'Mantralaya' (secretariat) and inspect the hard copy of the annexures and take copies of whichever pages they feel are relevant for them," Thorat said.
The petitioners' lawyers, however, refused to do so and said they were entitled to get copies of the entire annexures.
Thorat said the annexures were only survey data.
The court said it cannot prevent the petitioners from accessing the annexures.
"How can we prevent? Do something and find a way out. Someone at the commission must have typed it out. You (government) are a mighty government. The annexures can be scanned and given," Justice More said.
Thorat then sought time till February 4 to take instructions from the government on whether scanned copies could be given to the petitioners.
The court then posted the matter for further hearing on February 4.
"Till then, the petitioners are free to go to Mantralaya and inspect the hard copy of the annexures," the court said.
Several petitions were filed in HC challenging the November 30, 2018 decision of Maharashtra government granting 16 per cent reservation in government jobs and educational institutions for the Maratha community.
Some petitions were also filed in support of the reservation decision.
The court is expected to take up the petitions for final hearing on February 6.