The Bombay High Court on Thursday upheld the constitutional validity of Maharashtra government's decision to grant reservation to Maratha community in government jobs and educational institutions. A division bench of Justices Ranjit More and Bharati Dangre, however, said that 16 per cent quota is not justified and it should not exceed the Commission's recommendation is 12 to 13 per cent.
"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.
A bill proposing 16 per cent reservation in education and government jobs for the Marathas under the Socially and Educationally Backward Class (SEBC) category was passed by the Maharashtra Legislature on November 30 last year.
Several petitions were filed in the high court challenging the reservation, while a few others were filed in support of the quota. On February 6, a division bench of Justices Ranjit More and Bharati Dangre commenced hearing in all the petitions.
In April this year, the court closed the petitions for verdict. The government, while defending its decision, had said reservation was only to bring up the Maratha community which was neglected since long.
The petitioners challenging the quota decision, however, claimed by granting reservation to the Maratha community, the government has given them permanent crutches which they will never be able to shed.
The government has destroyed the concept of equality by setting up a special category - Socially and Educationally Backward Class - for the Maratha community, the petitioners argued.
They also claimed that as per the Maharashtra State Backward Class Commission report, Marathas and Kunbis are one and the same caste and hence, should be included in the Other Backward Classes (OBC) category.
With PTI Inputs