Short Note : Maratha Reservations
Published: June 27, 2019
A division bench of the Bombay High Court delivered a crucial verdict on the Maratha Quota which was granted to the Marathas in by the State Government in Maharashtra. While the quota has been upheld, the quantum of reservation has come down from 16% to under 13%.
What is the issue?
- Marathas had been agitating for a reservation in Maharashtra for several years.
- While Marathas are a landowning community and have been well-to-do historically, agriculture is no longer economically viable and the Marathas claim they need a reservation to enter the mainstream.
- After years of agitation in many governments, the Devendra Fadnavis led Maharashtra State Government got a bill passed in the legislature on 30 November, 2018 granting 16% reservation to the Marathas.
- The Marathas were also declared as a socially and educationally backward class.
- The quota was over and above the 52% conventional reservation in the state and raised the total number of reserved seats to 68%.
- Several petitions were filed in the court challenging the constitutional validity of the quota as it violated an earlier Supreme Court ruling which stated that reservations in any state should not exceed 50%.
What does the verdict say?
The judges agreed with the validity of the Government s argument that Marathas were a socially and educationally backward class (SEBC). It also stated that the state government is empowered to define a new category and then grant reservation. However, it reduced the quantum of reservation from 16% to at most 13%. The 13% cap was also recommended by the State Backward Classes Commission.
Reservation in India
Under India s positive discrimination policies, a total of 59.5% seats in all Central Government exams are reserved for the following 4 categories- 27% for the Other Backward Castes (OBCs), 15% for the Scheduled Castes (SCs), 7.5% for the Scheduled Tribes (STs) and 10% for the Economically Weaker Sections (EWSs). However, in states like Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra, further community specific quotas have increased the percentage of the reservation to over 65%. The reservations are provided either for the advancement of SC/ST/SEBC/EWS communities (Article 15) or to ensure adequate representation (Article 16).