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Maharashtra clears 10% Maratha quota bill

Published: 22nd Feb, 2024

Context

The Maharashtra Legislature unanimously passed a bill reserving 10% of the seats in educational institutions and the same proportion of government jobs for people from the Maratha community.

Background

  • This is the third such attempt by the state government to carve out a quota for the once-dominant agrarian community, after similar laws enacted in 2014 and 2019 were struck down by the courts.
    • The 2014 Maratha reservation law provided a 16% quota in jobs and education, but it was quashed by the Bombay high court.
    • The 2018 Maratha reservation provided a similar quantum of reservation, which the Bombay HC brought down to 12% and 13% respectively. The quota was quashed by the Supreme Court in May 2021.

What is the Bill?

  • Bill: Maharashtra State Reservation for Socially and Educationally Backward Classes Act 2024
  • In the bill passed by both houses of the state legislature, the Maharashtra government cited the findings of a report submitted by the Maharashtra State Commission for Backward Classes (MSCBC) as the basis for the reservation.
  • Key-findings of the Report:

Reservation Cap

The current percentage of reserved categories in the state stands as follows (totaling 62 per cent):

  • SC – 13 per cent
  • ST – 7 per cent
  • OBC - 19 per cent
  • SBC - 2 per cent
  • VJ (A) - 3
  • Vimukta Castes, NT (B) - 2.5
  • Nomadic caste, NT (C) - 3.5
  • Nomadic tribes (Dhangars etc), NT (D) - 2
  • Nomadic tribes (second category)
  • EWS – 10 per cent

The enactment of the 10 per cent Maratha quota through this reservation bill will constitute 72 per cent of the total reservation, exceeding the 50 per cent cap in the state.

    • Marathas account for 28% of Maharashtra’s population, and are in an “exceptional circumstances and extraordinary condition” of backwardness, making it a fit case for reservation over the 50% ceiling mandated by the Supreme Court.
    • The 10% quota is over and above the existing 62% reservation in the state, which includes 10% for those belonging to economically weaker sections (EWS) and remaining 52% caste based quota
  • Based on these findings, the commission recommended that the Maratha community be notified as a socially and educationally backward class under Article 342(C) and Article 366(26C) of the constitution, indicating the need for a separate social component with different and independent percentages from the existing reserved castes.
  • Article 342-C of the Constitution empowers the state to list the backward communities as per the provisions of Articles 15(4) and 16(4).
  • The Bill outlines the provision of a 10-year review period after the implementation of the proposed reservation.
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