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Tuesday, Aug 20, 2019

Maratha reservation judgment may kindle fresh quota stirs by other communities

Community leaders claimed the Bombay HC order will revive their agitations seeking reservation, and put pressure on their respective state governments to meet their demand.

india Updated: Jun 28, 2019 11:10 IST
HT Correspondents
HT Correspondents
Jaipur/Chandigarh/Ahmedabad
Maratha community members celebrate after the Bombay HC verdict on reservation for the community, Mumbai, Thursday, June 27, 2019.
Maratha community members celebrate after the Bombay HC verdict on reservation for the community, Mumbai, Thursday, June 27, 2019. (Satish Bate/HT Photo)
         

Leaders of communities campaigning for quota in government jobs and educational institutions in Rajasthan, Haryana and Gujarat welcomed a Bombay high court order on Thursday upholding reservations for the Marathas , saying the judgment paved the way for breaching the 50% ceiling in caste-based reservations imposed by the Supreme Court.

While green-lighting the legislation extending reservations to Marathas, the Bombay HC said the 50% cap — imposed in a landmark 1992 SC verdict — can be “extended in exceptional situations”. The court, however, wanted the quota lowered from 16% to 12% in college admissions and 13% in government jobs.

The decision to provide reservation to Gujjars in Rajasthan, Jats in Haryana and Patidars in Gujarat has either been challenged or stayed by the higher judiciary in recent years,on the premise that any such quota breached the SC-mandated limit.

Community leaders claimed the Bombay HC order will revive their agitations, and put pressure on their respective state governments to meet their demand.

Jats, Gujjars and Patidars want Other Backward Class (OBC) status, which will give them access to the OBC quota, and have clashed violently with law enforcers.

Gujjar leader Himmat Singh said the HC ruling will help their cause. In 2015, Gujjars and other communities were given 5% reservation though the Special Backward Class (SBC) Act after violent protests broke out. But this was quashed by the Rajasthan HC the next year. The decision was challenged by the state government in the top court, which in 2017 asked for status quo to be maintained in the case.

On February 13 this year, the Rajasthan assembly passed a bill that provided Gujjars and four other communities 5% reservation after increasing the OBC quota from 21% to 26%. The bill is being challenged in the HC on the ground that it crosses 50% ceiling.

All India Jat Aarkshan Sangharsh Samiti (AIJASS) president, Yashpal Malik, said after the Bombay HC order, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in Haryana will have to now provide reservation to Jats.

Facing massive strikes, rail blockades and violence, the BJP government in Haryana had enacted a law in 2016 to provide 10% reservation to Jats and the five other castes. In September 2017, the Punjab and Haryana HC ordered the law be kept in abeyance till the Haryana Backward Classes Commission (HBCC) determined the extent of reservation. The commission finished examining data but couldn’t submit its report because of a 2018 top court order asking for status quo to be maintained.

“The BJP government does not want a solution. The BJP wants to keep the issue, Jats versus nonJats, alive to fulfil their political ambitions,’’ alleged Malik.

In Gujarat, Patidar-stir-leader-turned-Congress member Hardik Patel considered the HC verdict as validation of the agitation he has led. “All the while, the Patidar’s demand for the reservation was called unconstitutional. Today, it has been proved that our agitation was legitimate,’’ said the 25-year-old, who became the face of the agitation in 2015.

In 2016, the Gujarat HC had rejected an ordinance granting a 10 % quota to economically backward non-reserved communities, including Patidars.

First Published: Jun 28, 2019 11:10 IST

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