Focus: GS-II Governance
Why in news?
- A three-judge Bench of the Supreme Court referred a group of petitions challenging the Maratha reservation law to a Constitution Bench and found merit in the arguments made by senior lawyers that a larger Bench should examine the issue of reservation for the Maratha community.
- The three-judge Bench had reserved orders on pleas to refer the case to a larger Bench.
The Court’s Views
- The court said the Maratha quota, meanwhile, will not apply for admissions and appointments made in the State for 2020-21.
- However, the postgraduate admissions which have already been made will be left unaltered.
What are the petitions about?
- The petitions challenge the reservation granted to the Maratha community in education and jobs in Maharashtra.
- The appeals challenging the Maratha quota law contend that the statute provides 12 to 13% quota for the community in Maharashtra.
- This has breached the 50% cap declared by a nine-judge Bench of the apex court in 1992.
Who are the Marathas?
- The Marathas are a group of castes comprising peasants, landowners among others.
- Not all Marathi-speaking persons belong to Maratha community.
- A politically dominant community in Maharashtra, it comprises nearly one-third of the population of the state.
- Historically, Marathas have been identified as a ‘warrior’ caste with large land-holdings.
What did the Bombay HC rule?
- In 2019, a division bench commenced hearing in petitions filed by advocate Jishri Laxmanrao Patil and others.
- The Bombay HC held that the limit of reservation should not exceed 50%.
- It ruled that the 16% quota granted by the state was not ‘justifiable’.
- It reduced the quota to 12% in education and 13% in government jobs.
- For this, the court relied on findings of the 11-member Maharashtra State Backward Class Commission (MSBCC).
- It also said that in exceptional circumstances and extraordinary situations, this 50% limit can be crossed.
- This limit should be subject to availability of contemporaneous data reflecting backwardness, inadequacy of representation and without affecting the efficiency in administration.
- The Court had said that while the backwardness of the community was not comparable with SCs and STs.
- It was comparable with several other backward classes (OBCs), which find place in the list of OBCs pursuant to the Mandal Commission.
What is MSBCC?
- The MSBCC surveyed about 45,000 families from two villages from each of 355 talukas with more than 50% Maratha population.
- It reported that the Maratha community is socially, economically and educationally backward.
- The HC observed that the Commission had conclusively established the backwardness of the community.
- It had also established inadequacy of representation of the Maratha community in public employment in the state.
What is the existing reservation in Maharashtra post HC verdict?
- In Mandal Commission case 1993, the SC had ruled that total reservation for backward classes cannot go beyond the 50%-mark.
- Maharashtra is one of the few states that are an exception to this.
- Following the 2001 State Reservation Act, the total reservation in the state was 52%.
- Along with the 12-13% Maratha quota, the total reservation is 64-65%.
- The 10 % Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) quota announced by the Centre is also effective in the state.
-Source: The Hindu