Maharashtra assembly passes bill for 10% reservation to Marathas | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Maharashtra assembly passes bill for 10% reservation to Marathas

Feb 20, 2024 04:59 PM IST

The bill cites the findings of the State Commission of Maharashtra for Backward Class as the grounds for the reservation

The Maharashtra assembly on Monday passed a bill for 10% reservation to the Marathas in educational institutes and government jobs even as courts struck down similar laws enacted in 2014 and 2019.

Chief minister Eknath Shinde tabled the bill in both Houses of assembly. (ANI)
Chief minister Eknath Shinde tabled the bill in both Houses of assembly. (ANI)

The bill cites the findings of the State Commission of Maharashtra for Backward Class (SCMBC) as the grounds for the reservation. In its report, the commission said Marathas, who account for Maharashtra’s 28% population, faced “‘exceptional and extraordinary” backwardness, making it a fit case for the reservation to breach the 50% cap.

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The 10% quota will be over and above the existing 62% in the state, which includes the 10% quota under the economically weaker sections (EWS) category.

The bill cites the case of 69% reservation in Tamil Nadu breaching the 50% cap set under the Supreme Court’s Indra Sawhney ruling. The top court in the Sawhney case in 1992 fixed a ceiling of 50% on quota. A five-judge bench in 2021 endorsed it as it quashed a 2018 Maharashtra law for reservation to Marathas in jobs and educational institutions.

A challenge to Tamil Nadu law providing 69% reservation remains pending before the Supreme Court but it was put in the Constitution’s Ninth Schedule ensuring a limited scope of judicial review.

Chief minister Eknath Shinde, who tabled the bill in both Houses of assembly, said the Supreme Court in May 2021 had empowered the government to list the backward classes for reservation. He said the commission’s report has established that the community is entitled to reservation. “The reservation is being given on firm grounds without disturbing the existing quota. The reservation will withstand legal scrutiny and be sustained entirely as we have addressed the flaws the Supreme Court pointed out while quashing the previous quota given in 2018.”

Shinde said 22 states have more than 50% quota. “Apart from Tamil Nadu, there’s 67% in Haryana, 69% in Bihar, 55% in West Bengal, 59% in Gujarat. We will ensure that it passes all legal tests,” he said.

The commission report said 21.22% of Marathas live below the poverty line, which is more than the state average of 17.4%. It found that the non-creamy layer category is 84% of the Maratha community deserving appropriate protection in terms of adequate reservation in employment and education as held in the Indra Sahwhney ruling.

The commission’s report said the Maratha community is backward in higher education. It added economic backwardness is the root cause of it. “The Maratha class has suffered abject poverty for decades together on account of its primary source of income being agriculture and the same being depleted every passing year. The community has been largely dependent on the types of work performed by labourers... The statistics of the percentage of the population show that such a large number of the population has remained inadequately represented in employment, services, and avenues of education. The empirical and quantifiable data have revealed that the Maratha class is completely left out of the mainstream not only in the purely economic sense of backwardness but equally on the aspect of social and educational backwardness,” the bill said.

The SCMBC on Friday submitted a report to Shinde on the social status and backwardness of the Maratha community ahead of a special session of the assembly for the passage of a law for the quota.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    Surendra P Gangan is Senior Assistant Editor with political bureau of Hindustan Times’ Mumbai Edition. He covers state politics and Maharashtra government’s administrative stories. Reports on the developments in finances, agriculture, social sectors among others.

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