Recently, in Maharashtra, the demand for reservations in educational institutions and government jobs by the Maratha community has once again taken center stage.
GS II: Polity and Governance
Dimensions of the Article:
- History and Status of the Maratha Reservation Demand
- Chronology of Maratha Reservation Demand
- 102nd Amendment Act of 2018
History and Status of the Maratha Reservation Demand:
The demand for reservation by the Maratha community in the Indian state of Maharashtra has a history dating back several years. Here’s an overview of the history and status of the Maratha reservation demand:
- Background of the Maratha Community: The Marathas are a socially and politically influential group in Maharashtra, constituting approximately 33% of the state’s population. Historically, they were known as a warrior caste with significant land holdings and political influence.
- Social and Economic Backwardness: Over time, various factors such as land fragmentation, agrarian distress, unemployment, and limited access to education and employment opportunities have led to the social and economic backwardness of many Marathas. While they continue to play a crucial role in the rural economy, a significant section of the community has faced challenges in various aspects of life.
- Demand for Reservation: In response to these challenges, the Maratha community has been demanding reservation in government jobs and educational institutions. They seek inclusion in the category of Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC) to avail the benefits of affirmative action policies.
- Political Mobilization: The demand for Maratha reservation gained momentum through large-scale protests and demonstrations organized by various Maratha organizations and associations. These protests highlighted issues related to unemployment, underrepresentation, and socio-economic disparities within the community.
Chronology of Maratha Reservation Demand:
- 2017: A commission chaired by Retired Justice N G Gaikwad recommended Maratha reservation under SEBC.
- 2018: Maharashtra Assembly passed a bill proposing 16% reservation for Marathas.
- 2018: Bombay High Court upheld the reservation but suggested reducing it to 12% in education and 13% in jobs.
- 2020: Supreme Court stayed its implementation and referred the case to the Chief Justice of India for a larger bench.
- Supreme Court struck down Maratha reservation in 2021, citing the 50% cap on total reservations set in 1992.
- The Maratha reservation, at 12% and 13% (education and jobs), increased the overall reservation ceiling to 64% and 65%, respectively.
- SC emphasized that the 50% rule could be relaxed only in exceptional and extraordinary situations.
- The court found no such circumstances in Maharashtra to breach the limit.
- The state had no authority to grant socially and economically backward status to a community; only the president can adjust the central list of backward classes.
- The Supreme Court upheld the constitutional validity of the 102nd Constitution Amendment but differed on its impact on state power to identify SEBCs.
- In November 2022, after the SC upheld the 10% quota for Economically Weaker Sections, the state government allowed economically weaker Maratha members to benefit from the EWS quota pending the resolution of the Maratha reservation issue.
102nd Amendment Act of 2018:
Introduction of New Articles:
- The 102nd Amendment Act of 2018 introduced two new articles into the Constitution of India: Article 338B and Article 342A.
- Article 338B deals with the establishment of the National Commission for Backward Classes. This commission is responsible for addressing the concerns and rights of socially and educationally backward classes in the country.
- Article 342A empowers the President of India to specify the socially and educationally backward communities within a State.
- It underscores that the inclusion of a community in the Central List for socially and backward classes and the subsequent grant of reservation benefits are matters within the purview of the Parliament.
-Source: The Hindu