New Delhi: The Maharashtra government on Sunday (November 18) cleared the way for reservations for the Maratha community in jobs and educational institutions, under a new category – Socially and Educationally Backward Class.
The state government’s came days after the State Backward Class Commission submitted its report stating that Marathas are socially, economically and educationally backward. The commission had recommended the creation of the SEBC category.
The politically dominant Maratha community constitutes over 30% of the state’s population.
Speaking to reporters after a cabinet meeting on the eve of the winter session of the Maharashtra legislature, Fadnavis said, “The state cabinet has accepted the backward class commission’s report for Maratha reservation.
“Quantum of reservation will be fixed by the cabinet sub-committee assigned to chalk out technical aspects of the bill (granting quota) which will be tabled in the coming session,” he said. The community has been demanding 16% reservation.
After the commission submitted its report to the government earlier this week, Fadnavis had hinted that the demand for quota would be fulfilled.
The Maratha community has been demanding reservations for a long time, and its agitation took a violent turn in July and August this year.
Rajendra Kondane, Maratha Kranti Morcha coordinator, welcomed the decision. He told the Indian Express, “It is a historical decision. The Maratha reservation demand was pending for several decades. The government should now take the process forward and ensure its enforcement at the earliest, after completing the legal and constitutional process.”
According to government sources, the commission’s report has said that Marathas are a “socially and educationally backward class of citizens” with minuscule representation in government and semi-government services.
Asked whether the proposed reservation for Marathas will cross the 50% ceiling set by the Supreme Court, Fadnavis said the commission has described the condition of the Maratha community as “extraordinary and exceptional”.
“There is no such provision for a ceiling on quota in the Indian Constitution. On the contrary, the Constitution provides for quota under extraordinary and exceptional cases, when a community’s backwardness is documentarily established,” Fadnavis said.
“Even though the case of Tamil Nadu, where reservation has crossed the 50% mark, is pending in the apex court, it has not been struck down. We are confident of extending reservation to Marathas.”
As per the opinion of the advocate general, the state does not need the permission of the Central government for granting quota, he further said.
The Congress too has welcomed the decision, with leader of opposition Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil saying, “We welcome the government’s decision to endorse the commission’s report and give reservation to Marathas under a special category. But it should ensure that it is enforced in letter and spirit, without any legal challenge.”
According to the Indian Express, the total reservation in Maharashtra at the moment is 52%.
The State Backward Class Commission’s report, the newspaper reported, says that the percentage of Marathas below poverty line was 37.28%, higher than the 25% base. In addition, the percentage of Marathas with small and marginal landholdings was 62.78%, while the base considered for soci0-economic backwardness is 48.25%.
Asked about the demand for reservation by the Dhangar community, Fadnavis said the Dhangars are presently in the VJNT (Nomadic Tribes) category and have 3.5% reservation, but they want quota under the Scheduled Tribes category.
“This comes under the Centre’s purview. We will make the recommendation to the Centre,” he said.
(With PTI inputs)