The Bombay High Court, on Thursday, upheld the reservation given to the Maratha community by the Maharashtra government. However, it added that 16 per cent reservation to the community is "not justifiable". The court has asked to bring down the reservation for Marathas in educational institutions to 12 per cent and in government job appointments to 13 per cent.
The judgment is regarding a bunch of petitions that challenged the Maharashtra government's decision to grant 16 per cent reservation to the Maratha community in government jobs and educational institutions.
On November 30 last year, the Maharashtra legislature passed a bill proposing 16 per cent reservation for Marathas under the Socially and Educationally Backward Class (SEBC) category. Following the decision, several petitions were filed challenging the decision. This increased the reservation in Maharashtra from 52 per cent to 68 per cent, far beyond the 50 per cent cap set by the Supreme Court.
A division bench comprising Justices Ranjit More and Bharati Dangre started hearing all the petitions on February 6. The government defended its decision and argued that the reservation was only to bring up the Maratha community, which has been neglected for long.
The petitioners challenged the government's decision and said the community is being enabled and they will never be able to come out of that space. They also said that by granting reservation, the government is destroying the concept of equality. The petitioners also argued that the Marathas and Kunbis belong to the same caste and hence should be included in the Other Backward Classes (OBC) category.
The nine-member commission headed by Justice MG Gaikwad had said that they considered multiple parameters before recommending reservation. It took note of the Khatri Commission and Bapat Commission and added, "The Khatri Commission had recommended inclusion of Maratha-Kunbi and Kunbi-Maratha in the list of Other Backward Classes as a sub-caste of Kunbi, but had not recommended inclusion of Marathas in the OBC list."
(Edited by Anwesha Madhukalya)
(The copy earlier stated that the Bombay High Court upheld 16% reservation. It has since been corrected and updated)