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Bombay HC Upholds Maratha Reservation, But Opposes 16% Quota

The court observed that the quota percentage should be reduced from 16 percent to 12 to 13 percent.

Updated
Law
3 min read
Protestors from the Maratha community take part in a rally demanding reservation, in Karad, Maharashtra. Image used for representational purposes. 
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The Bombay High Court on Thursday, 27 June, upheld the concept of Maratha reservation as provided for by the Maharashtra government. However, while accepting the reservation, it did not accept the quota of 16 percent given to the community.

The division bench of Justices Ranjit More and Bharati Dangre also agreed with the recommendations of the State Backward Classes Commission, holding that the quota percentage should be reduced from 16 percent to 12-13 percent.

“We hold and declare that the state government possesses legislative competence to create a separate category of the Socially and Educationally Backward Class (SEBC) and grant reservation.”
Bombay High Court 
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The judgment came months after the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly passed the Maratha Reservation Bill providing 16 percent quota for Marathas in government jobs and education under the Socially and Educationally Backward Class (SEBC) category.

Various petitions were filed in the court on the matter, some against the reservation and others for it.

The Maratha reservation will be in addition to the existing 52 percent overall reservation in the state. With the 16 percent reservation for Marathas, the total quantum of reservation in the state was expected to rise to 68 percent, though this will not be the level after the judgment.

The petitions challenging the quota decision had argued that it violated the Supreme Court's orders which say that reservation in any state should not exceed more than 50 percent.

Fadnavis, BJP-Sena Leaders Hail HC Ruling

Maharashtra Congress Chief Ashok Chavan hailed the ruling, saying that the then Congress government had initiated it.

“We are extremely happy that finally the Maratha Reservation issue has been resolved, it was the then Congress government which had initiated it. Somehow due to some legal hurdles, the issue could not surpass the High Court scrutiny,” he said, according to ANI.

The leaders of the ruling BJP-Shiv Sena combine in Maharashtra led by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Thursday also hailed the Bombay High Court's decision, PTI reported.

Speaking in the Legislative Assembly, which is conducting its monsoon session, Fadnavis said it is a matter of happiness that the high court has upheld his government's decision to grant quota to the community.

Finance Minister and BJP leader Sudhir Mungantiwar also hailed the high court’s ruling.

On the court's suggestion that the quantum of quota be reduced from 16 percent to 12 or 13 percent, Mungantiwar told PTI that the government will study the order and decide steps to ensure the existing level of reservation for Marathas in jobs and education is maintained.

“We are very happy that validity of the reservation stood test of the court. The government had put forth its side on the issue after studying everything,” he said.

The government will take all necessary steps to ensure 16 percent quota for the community, the BJP minister said, when asked about whether the government will fight the case in Supreme Court in case the high court's order is challenged there.

Asked whether the high court decision will have a bearing on the BJP's prospects in the upcoming Assembly polls, Housing Minister and BJP leader Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil said the government's measure was aimed at ensuring justice for the community and not to derive any political gain.

With this decision, the government's credibility will further strengthen among other communities, Patil said, going on to add:

“It was a very historic decision. The court’s decision is a tribute to those who had laid their lives seeking the quota.”

(With inputs from PTI.)

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