Maratha Reservation Bill

Maratha Reservation Bill


The Maharashtra Assembly recently passed the Maharashtra State Reservation for Socially and Educationally Backward Classes Bill 2024, allocating 10% reservation for the Maratha community in jobs and education within socially and educationally backward categories.


GS-02 (Government policies and interventions)

Highlights of the Maratha Reservation Bill:

  • Drafted based on a report from the Maharashtra State Backward Class Commission, which identified the Marathas as socially and educationally backward.
  • Specifies the Maratha community as a Socially and Educationally Backward Class under relevant articles of the Indian Constitution.
  • Implements the principle of creamy layer to ensure reservation benefits target the most marginalized within the Maratha community.
  • Acknowledges “exceptional circumstances and extraordinary situations” justifying reservations for the Maratha community above the Supreme Court’s 50% ceiling.
  • With this addition, Maharashtra’s total reservation reaches 62%, surpassing the previous 52%.

Background of the Maratha Reservation:

  • Narayan Rane Committee recommended 16% reservation for Marathas in 2014, later challenged and stayed by the Bombay High Court.
  • Gaikwad Commission’s findings led to the enactment of the Socially and Educationally Backward Class (SEBC) Act in 2018, granting 16% reservation, later reduced by the courts.
  • The Supreme Court struck down the quota in May 2021, citing insufficient data and the 50% ceiling.
  • Maharashtra State Backward Class Commission, led by Justice (retd) Sunil B Shukre, established in 2023 to reassess the Maratha reservation issue, highlighting reasons such as extreme poverty and inadequate representation in public services.

Arguments in Favour of Maratha Reservation:

  • The Shukre Commission’s data highlights the socio-economic challenges faced by the Maratha community, justifying the need for reservation to uplift them from poverty and marginalization.
  • High rates of farmer suicides among Marathas underscore the urgent need for targeted interventions to alleviate economic distress.
  • Historically excluded from mainstream opportunities, reservation in government jobs and education can enhance Maratha representation, contributing to inclusive development.

Arguments Against Maratha Reservation:

  • Previous legal challenges and setbacks raise doubts about the new Bill’s ability to withstand judicial scrutiny, especially in light of the Supreme Court’s ruling against Maratha reservations due to insufficient data justifying quota extension beyond the 50% ceiling.
  • Controversy surrounding the Kunbi Certificate proposal and concerns about its impact on existing OBC reservations cast doubt on the viability of the new reservation.
  • Some Maratha activists prefer inclusion within the OBC category, highlighting internal dissent within the community.
  • While reservation may address immediate concerns, a comprehensive approach addressing education, skill development, and infrastructure is necessary for sustainable development and tackling root causes of Maratha backwardness.