Marathas are backward community, says reservation panel, recommends 16% quota: Devendra Fadnavis faces tricky task

The Maharashtra State Backward Classes Commission has suggested reservation of 16 percent for the Maratha community, stating that the community is socially and economically backward, however, the Maharashtra government may find it impossible to implement the suggestion, especially keeping in mind the restrictions on caste-based reservation in India.

Sources told News18 that the commission headed by retired Justice MD Gaikwad, found the Marathas, who comprise 30 percent of the state's population to "fit all the 25 criteria of backwardness", and has suggested the additional reservation quota of 16 percent for them.

File image of Maratha protesters. PTI

File image of Maratha protesters. PTI

Currently the reserved quota in Maharashtra stands at 52 percent, which includes communities from Scheduled Castes (SCs), Scheduled Tribes (STs) as well as Other Backward Classes (OBCs) and other special categories. This is already above the 50 percent limit set for caste-based reservations by the Supreme Court in 2008.

Besides, the commission's report, itself presents a hurdle to the state government. According to sources, the report also noted that the 16 percent reservation for Marathas has to be provided without touching the existing quota reserved for Other Backward Classes.

What this means is, the only option in front of the government in order to grant reservation to the Maratha community  is to either cut reservation quota for other communities, or violate the Supreme Court order — both of which are problematic.

Here, it's also important to remember that in 2014, the then Congress-NCP government had announced 16 percent reservation for Marathas and five percent reservation for the Muslims. However, the Bombay High Court stayed the decision in response to a PIL. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis may face a similar situation.

The Fadnavis government in Maharashtra, however, seems confident of passing the legal hurdles by end of November. Speaking to reporters in Akola district on Wednesday, the chief minister had said that the government will try to complete all legal formalities by the end of November to grant the Maratha community reservation. It was speculated that the Maratha government may announce its decision on Maratha reservation issue in the two-week Winter Session of the Maharashtra Assembly that starts on 19 November.

On Thursday, Fadnavis reiterated his stance at a rally in Ahmednagar, informing the community to prepare to rejoice on 1 December, in what appears to be a likely date for announcement of the reservation quota. According to ANI, Fadnavis also confirmed that the govt has received the report on Maratha reservation. He said:

Sources told PTI that the commission went through two lakh memorandums, surveys of about 45,000 families and empirical data on social, financial and educational backwardness of the Maratha community.

"It went through historical records, old verdicts, constitutional provisions, writings by renowned anthropologist and sociologist Irawati Karve and reports of organisations such as the Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics," a source said. Maratha organisations had staged agitation for quota across the state in July and August this year.

With inputs from PTI

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Updated Date: Nov 16, 2018 10:36:39 IST

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