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Maratha Quota On Hold

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MARATHA QUOTA ON HOLD

The Bombay High Court will resume hearing the challenge to the 10% quota in jobs and education for Marathas under the Socially and Educationally Backward Class (SEBC) category in Maharashtra on june 13.

This means the court will decide on the pleas seeking an interim stay on the state’s SEBC Act, 2024, only after the Lok Sabha elections are over on June 4.

The SEBC Act,2024 was passed based on the recommendations of Maharashtra State Backward Class Commission (MSBCC) led by Justice Sunil Shukre (retd.).

THE FINDINGS

  • The Justice Shukre Commission found an “alarming” increase — from 0.32% to 13.7% in the six years since 2018 — in the rate of girl child marriages among marathas.
  • The panel found that representation of Marathas in government services had declined from 14.63% in 2018 to just 9% in 2024.
  • The community was “completely out of the mainstream”.

WHO ARE THE MARATHAS?

  • The Marathas are a group of castes comprising peasants and landowners among others constituting nearly 26 per cent of state’s population.
  • While most Marathas are Marathi-speaking, not all Marathi-speaking people belong to the maratha community.
  • Historically, they have been identified as a ‘warrior’ caste with large land holdings.
  • Since the formation of Maharashtra state in 1960, of its 20 chief ministers, 12 (including Eknath Shinde) have been from the Maratha Community.

WHY ARE THEY DEMANDING RESERVATION?

However, over the years, due to factors such as

  • Land fragmentation.
  • Agrarian distress.
  • Unemployment and
  • Lack of educational opportunities

Many Marathas have faced social and economic backwardness. The community still plays an important role in the rural economy.

Therefore, they have been demanding reservation in government jobs and educational institutions under the category of Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC).

THE TIMELINE OF THEIR DEMAND

The Marathas have been demanding reservation in government jobs and educational institutions for a long time. The first protest was held 32 years ago by Mathadi Labour Union leader Annasaheb Patil in Mumbai.

Since 1981, Maratha reservation has become an integral part of politics in the state and a cause for mass protests.

Ahead of the 2014 Assembly elections, the then Prithviraj Chavan-led state government brought an ordinance pronouncing 16 per cent reservation to Marathas in government jobs and education. It was based on the then Narayan Rane Committee recommendations.

  • In November 2018, based on the findings of Backward Class Commission headed by M G Gaikwad, the government gave its nod for reservation to Marathas under a special provision — Socially and Educationally Backward Class Act. (16%)
    • The Bombay High Court while upholding the reservation pointed out that instead of 16% it should be reduced to 12% in education and 13% in jobs.
  • In 2020, The Supreme Court of India stayed its implementation and referred the case to the Chief Justice of India for a larger bench.
  • In 2021, Supreme Court struck down the Maratha reservation citing the 50% cap on total reservations it had set in 1992. (Indira Sawhney Case)
    • The Maratha reservation of 12% and 13% (in education and jobs) had increased the overall reservation ceiling to 64% and 65%, respectively.

THE 2021 JUDGEMENT

  • The Supreme Court said that there were no “exceptional circumstances” or an “extraordinary situation” in Maharashtra for the state government to breach the limit. (50%) (The Gaikwad Comm surveyed only 43,629 families)
  • In addition, the court ruled that the state had no authority to accord socially and economically backward status to a community: only the president can tweak the central list of socially and backward classes, said the court. States can only make “suggestions”.
  • The Supreme Court highlighted that a separate reservation for the Maratha community violates Articles 14 (right to equality) and 21 (due process of law).
  • In November 2022, after the SC upheld the 10% quota for the Economically Weaker Sections, the state government said that until the issue of maratha reservation isresolved, economically weaker members of the community can benefit from the EWS quota.

ACCOMODATION OF DEMAND

The Marathas have been demanding reservation under the leadership of Manoj jarange patil. The state government has accommodate their demands and allowed them reservation under the OBC category. (To only those who are holding the Kunbi certificate).

For the remaining Marathas, SEBC Act,2024 had been passed to give them 10% reservation. [This has been challenged & stayed by the court].

This 10% reservation is also breaching the 50% mark, but the state govt relied on Justice Shukre Commission’s report which surveyed more than 1.5 crore families. This, the state govt believed is creating exceptional circumstances to breach the 50% limit.

 

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