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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

July 2024