PIL against Kunbi certificates to Marathas: HC asks petitioner to wait for hearing for few more days | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times

PIL against Kunbi certificates to Marathas: HC asks petitioner to wait for hearing for few more days

Feb 01, 2024 12:59 PM IST

PIL against Kunbi certificates to Marathas: HC asks petitioner to wait for hearing for few more days

Mumbai, Feb 1 (PTI) The Bombay High Court on Thursday said a petitioner challenging the Maharashtra government's move to issue Kunbi certificates to Marathas could wait for a few more days for hearing on the plea, considering the caste certificates were being issued since November 2023.

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The court made the remarks after Mangesh Sasane, who claims to be the chairman of the 'OBC Welfare Foundation', sought an urgent hearing on his public interest litigation (PIL) filed earlier this week.

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A division bench of Chief Justice Devendra Upadhyaya and Justice Arif Doctor noted that once a fresh petition is filed and numbered before the HC's registry, it is normally taken up for hearing within four days, as per the new auto-listing system.

As per the HC's website, the petition would be taken up for hearing on February 6.

The PIL claimed that the state government, by granting Kunbi caste certificates to the Maratha community members, was "eating into" the reservation of the Other Backward Classes (OBCs).

On Thursday, Sasane's advocate Ashish Mishra mentioned the plea before the bench and sought an urgent hearing.

"This PIL challenges various government resolutions issued by the Maharashtra government since 2004. The latest resolutions issued last year have eased out the process under which Kunbi caste certificates are granted to members from the Maratha community," Mishra said.

When the high court said the plea would be taken up for hearing in a few days, Mishra said each day several certificates are being issued.

Chief Justice Upadhyaya then asked since when the Kunbi caste certificates were being issued to the Maratha community members, to which Mishra said since November 2023.

"You have waited since then. Can you not wait for a few more days? We will take it up. It (petition) will come up for hearing," CJ Upadhyaya said.

The PIL challenges five government resolutions (GRs) issued from 2004, permitting the Marathas to seek Kunbi caste certificates.

It claimed that earlier the process/scrutiny before granting Kunbi certificates to Marathas was strict but with every agitation by the Maratha community members seeking quota, the process was diluted and made easier.

Members of the Maratha community are rich and, "in fact, most of the ministers and chief ministers are from this community," it futher claimed.

"The Maratha community is socially and economically forward and is socially and politically active and hence they should not be allowed to misuse their status/position," the PIL said.

However, the Kunbi community is a socially backward community that has been treated oppressively in the society, it said.

The petition claimed local Maratha leaders are taking advantage of the draft notification and are influencing the competent authority to issue Kunbi caste certificates to distant relatives of persons from the Maratha community.

It said the opportunities that were available to persons belonging to the OBC category have now turned into a full benefit for the Maratha community.

The PIL sought that the court quash all the GRs including the recent draft notification, and by way of an interim order, stay the issuance of certificates to the Maratha community under the Kunbi caste.

On January 20, Maratha reservation activist Manoj Jarange began a march to Mumbai from Antarwali Sarathi in Jalna, demanding issuance of Kunbi certificates to all Marathas, which would entitle them to benefits under the quota earmarked for the OBCs.

The state government recently issued a draft notification stating that blood relatives of a Maratha person, who has records to show he belongs to the Kunbi community, would also be recognised as Kunbi.

An agrarian community, Kunbi falls in the OBC category, and Jarange, spearheading the agitation for reservation for the Marathas since last August, has been demanding Kunbi certificates for all Marathas to enable them to avail quota benefits in government jobs and education.

Soon after the government issued the notification, the activist called off his march to Mumbai.

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