Bill to provide 10% quota for Marathas to be tabled in Maharashtra assembly | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

Bill to provide 10% quota for Marathas to be tabled in Maharashtra assembly

Feb 20, 2024 12:59 PM IST

The bill seeks to provide the Maratha community 10% quota in educational institutes and jobs above the existing 62% reservation in Maharashtra

A bill to provide a 10% quota for Marathas in educational institutes and jobs was due to be tabled in the Maharashtra assembly on Tuesday based on the recommendation of the state’s backward class panel, which has said it was a fit case for breaching the reservation cap.

The State Commission of Maharashtra for Backward Class on Friday submitted a report to chief minister Eknath Shinde. (HT PHOTO)
The State Commission of Maharashtra for Backward Class on Friday submitted a report to chief minister Eknath Shinde. (HT PHOTO)

The State Commission of Maharashtra for Backward Class (SCMBC) on Friday submitted a report to chief minister Eknath 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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The report said 21.22% of Marathas lived below the poverty line, which is 17.4% more than Maharashtra’s average. It said a bulk of farmers dying by suicide belonged to the Marathas community (94%). The report said there was an “exceptional and extraordinary condition” of backwardness in the community, accounting for Maharashtra’s 28% population, and thus there is a fit case for beaching the 50% cap.

The bill seeks to provide the community 10% quota above the existing 62% reservation in the state. It cites the case of 69% reservation in Tamil Nadu breaching the 50% cap set under the Supreme Court’s Indra Sawhney ruling.

The court in the Indra 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.

The SCMBC submitted its report on the Maratha quota to Shinde weeks after activist Manoj Jarange Patil called off his indefinite hunger strike as the Maharashtra government issued a draft ordinance for the quota in education and jobs under the Other Backward Classes (OBCs) category.

Patil has demanded the inclusion of all Marathas under the OBC category by giving them Kunbi sub-caste certificates. Kunbis have a quota under the OBC category.

MSCBC was tasked to ascertain the Maratha backwardness and therefore eligibility for reservation in jobs and education. It widened the parameters and scrutinised changes in the living conditions of the community.

Shinde said millions of families have been surveyed and that Marathas deserve reservation which will withstand legal scrutiny.

The state government granted 16% reservation to the community in 2018 after protests, acceding to the decades-old Maratha demand. The Bombay high court slashed the quota to 13% in jobs and 12% in education before the Supreme Court in 2021 quashed the move.

Patil began his march to Mumbai on January 20, saying he would sit on a fast unto death until the state government announced reservation for the community largely dependent on agriculture. He described the march as the biggest in Maharashtra history.

Patil earlier resumed his hunger strike in October after his 40-day deadline to the Maharashtra government for the reservation to all Marathas passed even as the state government requested the activist to call off the agitation.

The government maintained it needed time for the reservation, which stands legal scrutiny while promising to accede to Patil’s demand.

Patil, who questioned the government for going back on its word, ended his previous 17-day hunger strike on September 14 in the presence of Shinde after an assurance that the government would take a call on the matter in 30 days.

The police lathi charge in Jalna at the site of Patil’s hunger on September 1 fuelled the agitation for the OBC status of Marathas.

Shinde later announced that Marathas from central Maharashtra could get quota under the OBC category if they produce certificates classifying them as Kunbi.

The state government in September appointed retired judge Sandeep Shinde-led committee to explore modalities of the reservation. The Maratha groups insisted they wanted reservations without any stipulation amid concerns among Kunbi and other OBC groups.

The state government found 5.7 million Kunbi certificates. Patil has insisted that all Marathas are Kunbi and should get quota under the OBC quota.

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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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