Maharashtra govt to take 'sons of soil' reservations issue to SC

The newly-formed Maharashtra government has decided to approach thge Supreme Court after the Bombay High Court stayed its move to grant 16 per cent reservation in government jobs and educational institutions to natives of the state or 'Marathas', pursuing the 'sons of the soil' policy overtly promoted or tacitly protected by all state political parties.

The decision was taken at an all-party meeting chaired by chief minister Devendra Fadnavis of the Bharatiya Janata Party in Mumbai, India's financial capital. It was also decided to change the laws in case the SC verdict goes against the parochial move.

"The state government today assured us that it will approach SC against the interim ruling of the HC," Shiv Sangram leader Vinayak Mete told reporters after the meeting. "The government will approach SC next week," he added.

The Shiv Sangram is a part of the blatantly Hindu chauvinist Sangh Parivar, of which the ruling BJP is the political arm.

Former Congress minister Naseem Khan, who attended the meeting, said, "The government will constitute an all-party committee on the issue of reservations for Marathas and Muslims.

"The state government is fully supportive of the Maratha quota. We will appeal in SC on the HC ruling. We will take measures to ensure that the quota remains," Fadnavis had said on Friday, reacting to the HC ruling.

"If the court has pointed out any discrepancy in the law, we will remove any lacunae in it during the winter session of the state legislature in Nagpur," the chief minister had said.

The Bombay High Court on Friday stayed the implementation of the controversial decision of the erstwhile Congress-NCP government in Maharashtra to provide 16-per cent reservation to Mahashtrians in government jobs and educational institutions announced ahead of the Assembly poll.

The HC also stayed the decision to provide five per cent reservation to Muslims in government service, but allowed quotas for them in educational institutions, citing "abysmally low" education levels and the need to draw the community into the "mainstream of secular education".

"The advocate general has advised us to approach Supreme Court in the matter," Fadnavis told reporters after the meeting.

 The chief minister said the meeting also discussed the "shortcomings in the earlier decision (on Maratha reservation taken by the erstwhile Congress-NCP regime) which was stayed by the court."

 "We will take action to immediately rectify the shortcomings of the Rane panel report," he said.

 While representatives of parties including BJP, the Shiv Sena, the Republican Party of India, and the Congress attended the meeting, no leader of Sharad Pawar's Nationalist Congress Party was present.

Mete, a former NCP legislator, said he did not know why the NCP did not attend the meeting.

A top legal expert present at the meeting said the high court had given the interim ruling based on a "lacunae in the report on Maratha reservation, submitted by the Narayan Rane committee."

The state government has decided to constitute an experts panel to rectify the lacunae in the Rane panel report, based on which the Congress-NCP regime had announced its decision to implement the reservations, Mete said.