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Bombay HC upheld Maratha Reservation

  • Category
    Polity & Governance
  • Published
    8th Jul, 2019
  • The Bombay High Court upheld reservation for Marathas in the State but quashed the 16% quota by calling it “not justifiable”.
  • As per the HC’s observation, the reservation should not exceed 12% for education and 13% for jobs as recommended by the Maharashtra State Backward Class Commission (MSBCC).

Issue

Context:

  • The Bombay High Court upheld reservation for Marathas in the State but quashed the 16% quota by calling it “not justifiable”.
  • As per the HC’s observation, the reservation should not exceed 12% for education and 13% for jobs as recommended by the Maharashtra State Backward Class Commission (MSBCC).

Background:

The Maratha community, which comprises over 30 per cent of the state's population, has been seeking reservation in government jobs and education for a long time as fragmentation of land and frequent drought makes their condition critical most of farmers committed suicide belongs to Maratha caste.

  • Based on the State Backward Class Commission's report, the government declared Maratha community as "socially and educationally backward class of citizens" and proposed 16 per cent quota for them in jobs and education which was passed by Maharashtra Legislature in November 2018.
  • With the passage of the bill, the reservation quantum in the state rose to 68 per cent.
  • In November 2018, the M G Gaikwad Commission in its recommendation declared the Maratha community as socially and educationally backward class of citizens (SEBC) and stated that the commuunity has inadequate representation in the services under the State.

 

Reservation in India

India is unique in the world in that reservation policies address historically disadvantaged groups, defined primarily by a caste system (most other countries base it on ethnicity, religion, language, gender or sexual preference).

  • One major category of policies used in removing restrictions on freedoms is affirmative action or positive discrimination. Part XVI of the Indian Constitution deals with reservation for scheduled castes (SC) and scheduled tribes (ST) in federal and state legislatures, as well as with the constitutional authority of the president to establish commissions to examine and recommend remedies for the welfare of SC and ST groups.
  • The initial reservations were only for SC and ST under Article 15(4) and Article 16(4) of the Indian Constitution for a period of 10 years (1951-1961); however, it is getting extended ever since.
  • After the implementation of Mandal Commission report in 1990, the scope of the reservation was widened to include Other Backward Communities (OBCs) in 1991.
  • In 2019, 124th Constitutional Amendment seeks to provide reservation to Economically Weaker Sections also. Thus, economic criteria have also been included for reservation, in addition to the socially and educationally backward criteria which already existed.
  • The benefits of the reservation were successively enjoyed only by a few communities (or families), excluding the truly deserving ones. Even 70 years after independence, the demand for reservation has only increased.
  • The case of Tamil Nadu is instructive. It (including the erstwhile Madras Presidency) began affirmative action programmes over a century ago on the back of the Madras census report of 1871. It enacted an employment law that was primarily based on caste in 1927. By 1980, through successive governments, reservations for higher education and employment stood at nearly 70%.
  • In Indra Sawhney vs Union of India, 1992, the Supreme Court of India capped caste-based reservation, ruling that “no provision of reservation or preference can be so vigorously pursued as to destroy the very concept of equality”.
  • To counter Supreme Court-mandated maximum of 50% reservation, Tamil Nadu set a precedent by including it under the 9th Schedule of the Constitution (subject to very limited judicial review).
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