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Maharashtra Assembly passes Maratha Reservation Bill for quota in education, jobs

The state government moved forward with proposed legislation to grant Maratha community reservations in education and public employment. Cabinet approval marked a significant step towards fulfilling the longstanding demand for reservations.

Nitin Kumar Edited By: Nitin Kumar @Niitz1 New Delhi Updated on: February 21, 2024 6:13 IST
Maharashtra
Image Source : PTI Maharashtra: Supporters of Maratha reservation activist Manoj Jarange Patil celebrate after the Maharashtra government accepted his demands, in Navi Mumbai.

In a significant development, the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly has approved the Maratha Reservation Bill, aimed at providing reservation in education and employment opportunities to the Maratha community. Maharashtra Chief Minister, Eknath Shinde, presented a bill in the state legislative assembly, suggesting a 10% reservation for the Maratha community in educational institutions and government positions. The Maharashtra State Socially and Educationally Backward Bill 2024 outlines the provision of a 10-year review period after the implementation of the proposed reservation.

Comprehensive survey findings

The Maharashtra State Backward Class Commission recently submitted a comprehensive report based on a survey encompassing nearly 2.5 crore families, shedding light on the social, economic, and educational status of the Maratha community.

Justification for reservation

Highlighting the bill's rationale, it underscored that the Maratha community constitutes 28% of the state's population. Additionally, it notes that a significant portion of Maratha families fall below the poverty line, with 21.22% holding yellow ration cards, exceeding the state average of 17.4%.

Eligibility based on progress

The government's survey conducted earlier this year also revealed that 84% of Maratha families do not fall under the progress category, making them eligible for reservation benefits as per the Indra Sawhney case.

Commitment to upholding existing reservation structure

Last week, Chief Minister Shinde reiterated his government's commitment to granting reservations to the Maratha community without altering the existing reservation quotas for other communities.

Intra-government dispute over reservation categories

However, divisions have emerged within the Maharashtra government regarding the categorisation of the Maratha reservation, particularly concerning its inclusion under the OBC (Other Backward Classes) category. Senior leader Chhagan Bhujbal has voiced opposition to guaranteeing reservations under the Kumbi category.

Legal battles surrounding Maratha reservation

The move to secure reservations for the Maratha community comes in the wake of legal battles. In 2021, the Supreme Court of India invalidated reservations for Marathas in college admissions and employment in Maharashtra. The court cited a lack of exceptional circumstances to justify breaching the 50% cap on overall reservations. Despite the rejection of a review plea, the state government pursued a curative petition in its quest to uphold Maratha reservations.

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