The Bombay High Court on Thursday upheld the constitutional validity of reservation for the Maratha community in government jobs and education. A division bench of Justices Ranjit More and Bharati Dangre, however, said the quota percentage should be reduced from 16 per cent to 12 to 13 per cent, as recommended by the State Backward Classes Commission.
"We hold and declare that the state government possesses legislative competence to create a separate category of the Socially and Educationally Backward Class (SEBC) and grant reservation," the court said. "We, however, have held that the 16 per cent should be reduced to 12 to 13 per cent as recommended by the commission," the bench said.
The court was hearing a bunch of petitions challenging Maharashtra government's decision granting 16 per cent reservation to the Maratha community in government jobs and educational institutions. On November 30, 2018, the Maharashtra legislature passed a bill granting 16 per cent reservation in education and government jobs for the Marathas, declared a socially and educationally backward class by the state government.
The reservation will be in addition to the existing 52 per cent overall reservation in the state. With the 16 per cent reservation for Marathas, the reservation quantum in the state was expected to rise to 68 per cent. Several petitions were filed in the court challenging the reservation, while a few others were filed in its support.
The petitions challenging the quota decision had argued that it was violative of Supreme Court's orders which say that reservation in any state should not exceed more than 50 per cent. The government, while defending its decision, had said that it was meant to alleviate the Maratha community, which it said was socially and economically backward.