Maratha quota seal
Bombay High Court on Thursday upheld the constitutional validity of reservation for the Maratha community in government jobs and education but said the quota should be reduced from 16 per cent to 12 to 13 per cent.
A division bench of Justices Ranjit More and Bharati Dangre accepted the recommendation of the state backward classes commission, which had advised in favour of a 12 per cent quota in education and 13 per cent in jobs.
“We hold and declare that the state government possesses legislative competence to create a separate category of socially and educationally backward class (SEBC) and grant reservation,” the court said.
“We, however, have held that the 16 per cent (quota) should be reduced to 12 to 13 per cent, as recommended by the commission,” the bench added.
The court further held that the state’s legislative competence is not affected by the amendment to Article 342(a) of the Constitution. According to the 102nd amendment to Article 342(a), reservation can be granted only if a particular community is named in the list prepared by the President.
“We conclude that the report submitted by the state backward classes commission was based on quantifiable data and was correct in classifying the Maratha community as socially and educationally backward,” the court said.
The court said it was aware the Supreme Court had in the past said the total quota should not exceed 50 per cent.
“However, in exceptional circumstances, the 50 per cent (limit) can be exceeded if it is based on quantifiable data,” the court said.
Soon after the judgment was delivered, the Maharashtra government told the court that it had already granted admissions in postgraduate medical courses under the reservation up to 16 per cent.
Government counsel V.A. Thorat sought permission to let the percentage remain at 16 for these courses this year. The bench asked the government to file a separate application for this.
The high court was hearing a bunch of petitions challenging the state government’s decision granting 16 per cent reservation to the Maratha community in government jobs and educational institutions.
The reservation will be in addition to the existing 52 per cent quota in Maharashtra.
Several petitions were filed in the high court challenging the reservation, while some others were moved in its support.
The court had on February 6 begun hearing all the petitions and in April closed them for verdict.
The petitioners had said the quota was violative of the Supreme Court orders that say reservation in no state shall exceed 50 per cent.