Mumbai: The Bombay high court on Tuesday will hear a petition seeking directions to the Maharashtra government and the Maharashtra State Commission for the Backward Classes to come up with a time-bound programme on implementing quota for the Maratha community.
The commission will also submit a report to the court on the progress it has made so far and the time it will take to submit its final report to the state government.
These two developments assume significance as they would determine how the Maratha agitation for 16% quota in education and government jobs will pan out.
Vinod Patil, Maratha activist and the petitioner in the high court, said he had requested the court to advance the hearing in view of the violent protests and suicides by Maratha youths demanding quota.
“I urged the high court that instead of 14 August, the petition be heard on 7 August as it could save some lives. The high court has agreed," Patil said.
The petitioner has made the Maharashtra government and the commission respondents in the case. “I want the high court to direct the state government and the commission to declare a time-bound programme on the implementation of the Maratha quota," Patil said.
The government would complete the legal procedure to give reservation to the Marathas by November this year, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis said in a televised address on Sunday. “If the legal formalities are not completed by November, we will call a special session of the state legislature to complete those," Fadnavis had said.
The chief minister also said that as the commission is an autonomous body, the government cannot pressure it into submitting its report.
Fadnavis on Sunday also put on hold the “mega recruitment drive" for 72,000 government jobs till the Maratha quota comes into force, which has been one of the several demands of the Maratha organizations.
However, the Sakal Maratha Samaj, which is leading the protest all over Maharashtra, has refused to call off the stir, though it welcomed the decision to stay the recruitment drive.
The organization has said that the sit-in protest underway at several places in the state would be intensified from 7 August if the government did not announce a time-bound programme by then.
Significantly, 9 August marks the second anniversary of the Maratha mobilization that started in Marathwada in 2016.
A senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and Maharashtra minister who did not want to be named said that the government expected the Maratha organizations to hold some symbolic protest on 9 August. However, a lot depended on “what happens on Tuesday", he said.
“Obviously, the quota won’t be given tomorrow but if a favourable judgment comes, in the sense that there is a specific time frame that the commission gives and the government commits to, there could some climb-down in the situation," the minister said.