Anti-quota petitioners told the Bombay High Court today that Maharashtra government has given permanent crutches to the Maratha community by granting them reservation.
The government has destroyed the concept of equality by setting up a special category - Socially and Educationally Backward Class (SEBC), the petitioners argued.
A division bench comprising Justices Ranjit More and Bharati Dangre heard arguments for the third day, on a bunch of petitions challenging the state government's decision granting 16 per cent reservation to the Maratha community in government jobs and educational institutions.
"Reservation cannot be mistaken for a privilege. The state government by trying to bring the community up has given it permanent crutches. At some point, they need to shed the crutches," senior counsel Shrihari Aney, appearing for one of the petitioners, argued.
He added that through this decision, the government has destroyed the concept of equality in the society.
"The Constitution of India has a golden thread by way of Article 14, which speaks of right to equality. Maharashtra government's decision is an attempt to assault and destroy this Article," he said.
"The government cannot divide the nation/society into small fragments. This decision of the state is a prime example of erecting narrow silos that shuts doors for people to have equal opportunities at jobs and education," the senior counsel, who was formerly state advocate general, argued.
"All other states have been very careful to not exceed the 50 per cent cap for reservation. Maharashtra presently has 78 per cent reservation. On this basic principle itself, the decision of the government should be quashed and set aside," the petitioners said.
In November, the Maharashtra Legislature had passed a bill proposing 16 per cent reservation in education and government jobs for the Marathas, declared a socially and educationally backward class by the government.