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Maharashtra House okays bill for 10% Maratha quota

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MUMBAI: In a third such attempt in a decade, Maharashtra legislature on Tuesday unanimously passed a

bill

giving 10%

quota

to the politically influential

Maratha

community in govt jobs and educational institutions, including those in the private sphere, barring minority institutions. Those from the creamy layer will be excluded, reports Priyanka Kakodkar.
CM Eknath Shinde govt introduced the bill on the basis of “social and education backwardness” of the Maratha community established through a survey conducted under Maharashtra State Backward Class Commission. The state faces LS and assembly polls this year.
Maratha quota bill set to be challenged in court
Government has given us a separate reservation which crosses 50% ceiling and which does not stand the scrutiny of law, said Manoj Jarange. Opposition leaders said they are sceptical whether the bill will stand legal scrutiny.

The bill is set to be challenged in court like the two previous legislations since it will breach the 50% cap on caste-based quotas set by Supreme Court. The state’s caste reservations are currently at 52% and will shoot up to 62% once the legislation is enacted.

Screenshot 2024-02-21 042137

In addition, the state has a 10% quota for economically weaker sections in accordance with the central legislation. However, this is open to all communities that do not have a quota.

Significantly, Marathas will not be able to avail of EWS reservation once the latest quota is in force. Currently, Marathas are the biggest beneficiaries of the EWS quota and got 84% of govt jobs between 2019 and 2022.
Defending the breach of cap, Shinde said reservations in 22 states had crossed 50%. “In Tamil Nadu and Bihar, reservations are 69%, in Haryana it is 67%, in Rajasthan it is 64% and in West Bengal it is 55%,” he said.
Explaining how govt arrived at the quota, deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis said, “We had to keep in mind the observations in the survey report and the previous rulings of the courts.”
Calling the passage of the bill historic, Shinde said it was a victory for the Maratha community and that he had fulfilled a promise made just three months earlier in front of the statue of Chhatrapati Shivaji.
“I am the son of an ordinary Maratha farmer. I understand their pain. We have worked hard to ensure that the quota is given in a manner that will last and without hurting quota of other communities,” he said. Shinde said govt had worked non-stop for 150 days to ensure that the bill would not face legal hurdles.
MSBCC’s report said the community was inadequately represented in public services and education and entitled to reservation in the light of “exceptional circumstances”.
The survey, which examined 1.6 crore families across the state in just nine days, said Marathas were 28% of the total population. It said 21% of Maratha families in the survey were below the poverty line compared to 18% of open category families.
The report said the non-creamy layer of the Maratha community was 84%. It also found that 94% of the farmers who committed suicide in the state were Marathas.
It said that a large section of the community had “suffered abject poverty for a decade” since its main source of income was agriculture, which was in distress. It was also poorly represented in secondary school and graduate and postgraduate education, the report said.
Both the survey report and the bill emphasise that the Maratha quota is distinct from the OBC quota. The Maratha quota agitation triggered a backlash from the more populous OBC community, BJP’s main vote bank.
The report states, “The backwardness of the Maratha community is distinct and different from backward classes and more particularly OBCs in the sense that it is more pervasive in terms of its coverage, it is differed in its penetration and further regressive in its character.” The bill says, “For the removal of doubts, it is hereby declared that nothing in this act shall affect the reservation provided to OBCs.”
Meanwhile, Shinde said govt had received six lakh objections to the draft notification which allows blood relatives of Kunbi record holders to be given Kunbi caste certificates. “These objections are being examined. We appeal to Manoj Jarange to be patient while the legal process is being followed,” he said.

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