Maharashtra’s latest Maratha quota law and its challenges | Explained

Syllabus: GS-II, Subject: Polity, Topic: Right issue, Issue: Maratha quota law

Context: Maharashtra assembly recently passed the Maratha quota law.

  • Based on a report from the Maharashtra State Backward Class Commission led by Justice (retired) Sunil B Shukre.
  • Marathas constitute 28% of Maharashtra’s population, with 84% of them not socially advanced.
  • Reasons cited for Maratha backwardness include extreme poverty, decline in agricultural income, and landholding partitions.
  • The Commission justifies reservation for Marathas beyond the 50% limit due to “exceptional circumstances and extraordinary situations.”
  • Divide Marathas into – Non-Kunbi Marathas (covered under a separate category), Kunbi Maratha will get OBC certificate.
  • Apply the concept of Creamy layer to Maratha community.
  • The new Bill in Maharashtra does not affect the existing OBC quota.
  • With the Maratha reservation, the total reservation will increase to 72%.

Judicial scrutiny of Maratha reservation:

  • Bombay High Court, in 2014, stayed the Maratha quota ordinance, citing that Marathas could not be considered backward.
  • A Constitution Bench of Supreme Court in 2021 ruled against breaching the 50% reservation cap for Marathas, stating no “exceptional circumstances” exist.
  • Expert believe that Marathas are deemed politically dominant and landholders, making it challenging to justify their social and educational oppression.
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