What is ‘New Maratha Reservation Bill’?

The Maharashtra government-led by CM Eknath Shinde approved the draft of the bill for 10% Maratha reservation in education and government jobs.

Maharashtra government earlier held a special Vidhan Sabha session for one day to table a bill that provides separate reservation to the Maratha community beyond the mandated 50% limit currently imposed by Supreme Court.

Previous Enactment and Pitfalls

The Maratha community, under the leadership of Jarange Patil, had been seeking reservations in education and jobs under the Other Backward Class (OBC) category.  In 2018, the then state government had similarly extended Maratha quota which was subsequently challenged legally on grounds of breaching the 50 percent reservation ceiling not permitted by the top court in its 1992 judgement.

In 2021, the Supreme Court of India struck down reservations for Marathas in college admissions and jobs in Maharashtra. The top court said that there were no exceptional circumstances to justify the breach of the 50% on overall reservations. The state filed a review plea, which was also rejected. It then filed a curative petition.

Recommendations of Survey Commission

The reservation has been extended based on a report submitted to the state government by the Maharashtra Backward Class Commission (MBCC) headed by chairman Justice (Retired) Sunil Shukre. Shukhre submitted a report on the social and educational backwardness of the Maratha community after it undertook a survey of around 2.5 crore homes within a span of nine days.

The committee proposed a 10% reservation for Marathas in education and jobs. The government claims there is quantifiable evidence to now justify breaching the 50 percent barrier as an exceptional case.

Alternate Reservation Models Explored

Meanwhile, the state government is also studying models adopted by other states in extending economically weaker section (EWS) reservations that remain untested judicially for passing legal scrutiny, although indicating community identity dilutes original envisaged welfare principle.

The Maratha Reservation Bill is similar to the Socially and Educationally Backward Classes Act, 2018, introduced by then CM Devendra Fadnavis. Maharashtra already has a 10% quota for the Economically Weaker Section (EWS) in which the Marathas are the biggest beneficiaries, claiming 85% of the reservation.

 


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