New Delhi, Jan.20 (ANI): The Congress and Nationalist Congress Party coalition government in Maharashtra on Wednesday passed a resolution which makes it mandatory for the taxi drivers to speak, read and write Marathi to get taxi permits and also that they must have been residing in the state for 15 years.
The State Cabinet's decision is likely to have far reaching repercussions for other states in India, and could trigger similar divisionary and disturbing decisions.
The decision appears to fly in the face of a recent Supreme Court ruling. In an apparent reference to the recent violence against north Indians in Mumbai, Supreme Court Justice Markandey Katju, in his judgment, said: "India is not an association or confederation of States. It is a Union of States and there is only one nationality that is India. Hence every Indian has a right to go anywhere in India, to settle anywhere and work and do business of his choice in any part of India, peacefully. We are one nation and must respect each other and should have tolerance."
The apex court bench, which Justice Katju headed, further said: "Since India is a country of great diversity, it is absolutely essential, if we wish to keep our country united, to have tolerance and respect for all communities and sects. It was due to the wisdom of our founding fathers that we have a Constitution which is secular in character and which caters to the tremendous diversity in our country."
He quoted a couplet from Tiruvallur's Tamil classic Tirukkural, which says: "That alone can be called a prosperous country which is free from separatist tendencies and people who harm its sovereignty."
The works of Tamil poets Subramania Bharati and Kaniyan Poonkundranar, as also the Mahabharata, underlined the need for tolerance in society.
The Bench said: "One should not be touchy about a short restriction when it is being done out of respect for the sentiments of a particular section of society. The great Emperor Akbar himself used to remain a vegetarian for a few days every week out of respect for the vegetarian section of Indian society and out of respect for his Hindu wife. We too should have a similar respect for the sentiments for others, even if they are a minority sect."
The latest Cabinet decision for taxi permits is bound to affect migrants from North Indian states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar as most taxis in Mumbai are being driven by people from these two states.
However, the Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan has clarified that the decision is only for new permits and old ones won't be affected.
It is pertinent to mention that in the recent past migrant taxi drivers have been targeted by the Maharashtra Navniramna Sena for allegedly taking up the jobs of locals. (ANI)