Bombay High Court Criticizes Reckless Pleadings in Maratha Reservation Challenges

The Bombay High Court expressed regret over “reckless pleadings” in several petitions contesting the Maharashtra government’s decision to allocate reservation for the Maratha community. On Monday, the court highlighted the need for careful legal challenges due to the significant impact of the case on a large portion of the state’s population.

The full bench, led by Chief Justice D K Upadhyaya and comprising Justices G S Kulkarni and Firdosh Pooniwalla, has begun the final hearings on the matter. These challenges target the constitutional validity of the Maharashtra State Reservation for Socially and Educationally Backward Classes Act, 2024, which includes a provision for a 10% reservation for the Maratha community in governmental roles and educational settings.

Among the petitions is one by Bhausaheb Pawar, who has requested the inclusion of the Maharashtra State Backward Class Commission as a defendant, arguing against the Act’s provisions and the commission’s formation. This commission, led by retired Justice Sunil Shukre, is under scrutiny for its methodology and the recommendations it made concerning the Maratha reservations.

The state’s Advocate General, Birendra Saraf, emphasized the importance of allowing the commission to present its perspective since its establishment and findings are being questioned. Opposition from the petitioners stems from a belief that addressing the constitutional validity of the Act renders the commission’s input unnecessary.

Senior counsel V A Thorat, representing the state, also pointed out allegations against individual members of the commission in some petitions, with one explicitly labeling Justice Shukre as a “Maratha activist.”

Chief Justice Upadhyaya admonished the petitioners for their approach, stating, “I am very sorry to say this but in some of the petitions, the pleadings are reckless. This is a serious matter that is going to affect a large number of populaces in the state. You all should have been more careful in the pleadings made.”

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The court is set to deliberate further on the motion to include the commission in the ongoing lawsuits on Tuesday. Meanwhile, the petitioners have been given the option to declare their intention not to seek relief against the commission to expedite the main proceedings, though not all have agreed to this compromise.

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