The Supreme Court of India (SCI) recently struck down Reservation for Maratha community in education and jobs in the state as it breaches 50% ceiling of reservation.
- The five-judge constitution bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan also comprised Justices L Nageswara Rao, S Abdul Nazeer, Hemant Gupta, and S Ravindra Bhat declared the Maratha quota law as unconstitutional.
- The Supreme Court quashed the Maharashtra law which gave reservation to Marathas stating that it violates the “right to equality”.
- In 1997, the first major Maratha agitation for reservation in government jobs and educational institutions was organized by the Maratha Mahasangh and the Maratha Seva Sangh.
- The agitators said that Marathas were not upper caste people but essentially Kunbis, the name that has been in use in the western part to identify members of agrarian communities.
- In 2016, several Marathas came together under the “Maratha Kranti Morcha”.
- They joined hands to protest the rape and killing of a fifteen-year-old girl in Kopardi village, Ahmednagar.
- Though the Kopardi incident was a trigger, it was later centered on reservation for the Maratha community in educational institutions and government jobs.
- In 2017, silent, massive rallies were held that consolidated more and more Marathas towards this cause.
- They also demanded a loan waiver to farmers, justice for the Kopardi girl.
- In 2018, street protests turned violent.
- Some even committed suicides. “Ek Maratha Lakh Maratha” was their slogan.
- The then CM Fadnavis (BJP) set an eleven-member commission under retired justice N G Gaikwad. The commission recommended that the Marathas should be given reservation as it was a Socially and Educationally Backward Class (SEBC).
- The commission did not specify the quota percentage.
- It was left to the State Government to decide upon.
- In 2018, the State Government of Maharashtra provided reservations to the Marathas under the Maharashtra Socially and Educationally Backward Act.
- The act was approved by both the assembly and the council.
- However, a Public Interest Litigation challenged the reservation under SEBC in Bombay High Court.
- The High Court upheld the reservation and pronounced that the reservation should be 12% in education and 13% in jobs instead of 16%.