Bill providing for Maratha quota may face legal challenges, feel experts

The Maharashtra government’s bill to grant 16% quota to the Maratha community is likely headed for a long legal battle, experts said on Thursday, pointing out that a similar effort by a previous administration had been struck down by the Bombay high court.

india Updated: Nov 30, 2018 08:10 IST
Ketaki Ghoge
Ketaki Ghoge
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
Maratha,quota
BJP workers celebrate in Pune.(HT Photo)

The Maharashtra government’s bill to grant 16% quota to the Maratha community is likely headed for a long legal battle, experts said on Thursday, pointing out that a similar effort by a previous administration had been struck down by the Bombay high court.

Legal and constitutional experts said the new legislation might face a legal challenge as soon as the government issues a notification and is likely to get stayed in the coming weeks.

They also pointed out that the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government’s legislation that created a separate category for Marathas, Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC), was a political move unlikely to withstand judicial scrutiny. The challenge is likely to come largely from students and parents of the ‘open category’, whose quota of seats will now come down to 32%.

The Other Backward Class (OBC) groups, who form 52% of the state’s population and get 27% reservation, also plan to challenge the law as they are wary of it ultimately diluting their quota. “This is an unconstitutional amendment that breaches Article 14 of the Constitution that espouses equality,” said professor Ulhas Bapat, a constitutional expert.

Shreehari Aney, a former advocate general of Maharashtra, said: “ The data revealed so far from the report about Marathas being economically, socially backward shows they are deprived but what makes their case more special than existing backward classes. How is the Marathas’ case exceptional.”

But BJP minister Vinod Tawde said: “When we moved apex court to protect the earlier ordinance, we were told that backwardness for a community can only be decided by Backward Class Commission. So, accordingly we formed a commission. This is a statutory body that has said Marathas are backward and deserve reservation.”

First Published: Nov 29, 2018 23:19 IST