Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has urged the Centre to save the reservation for Marathas in jobs and education after the Supreme Court struck it down, calling it “unconstitutional”. The five-judge bench had also pointed out that the 2018 law exceeded the 50 per cent cap on quota.
The court’s decision was “unfortunate”, but “I think this battle is not lost yet”, Mr Thackeray said.
“Today, the Supreme Court said it is not your right to take this decision. So now what? The Supreme Court has shown us the way, by saying this is the right is of the Centre and the President,” he said.
Addressing the Prime Minister, he said, “The way you showed courage and removed Article 370, and previously in the Shah Bano case… So Prime Minister it is your right. You should help us”.
The five-judge constitution bench which examined the validity of the reservation, said states have no power to add any caste to socially and economically backward caste list.
“States can only identify the castes and suggest to the Centre… Only President can add the caste to SEBC list guided by the National Backward Classes Commission,” the judges said.
The Maratha quota was granted by the erstwhile Devendra Fadnavis government of Maharashtra after extensive protests by the politically powerful community. It has the support of the Centre, which maintains that states can grant reservation and their decision is constitutional. The Bombay High Court had upheld the reservation too, but its decision was put on hold by the Supreme Court last year.
Questioning what happens to the fundamental concept of equality if the quota system has no cap, the Supreme Court, at a hearing in March, said, “What about the resultant inequality? How many generations will you continue?”
In his first response to the top court’s judgment this afternoon, Mr Thackeray had said the legal battle for Maratha quota will continue till there is “victory”.