Rocky road ahead for Maratha quota?

Written By Unknown on Kamis, 25 Desember 2014 | 22.23

MUMBAI: The state government may have got the Maratha reservation bill passed in the assembly, and it may even get a smooth passage in the council as well but the route after that may be rocky as every effort to enact a 50%-plus reservation law across states has attracted a stay by the Supreme Court.

Though there is some scope under the Mandal commission judgment to cross the 50 percent Constitutional bar as held by the Supreme Court, but that can be only for groups which the state has to prove with proper quantifiable data are truly backward and have so been for decades. Besides, the conclusion that such a group is backward and requires reservation to uplift them socially and educationally has to be made by the Backward class welfare commission such as the Justice Bapat commission which had given no such recommendation to the Maratha reservation.

Former judge of the Bombay high court B H Marlapalle said the state is trying to bring in the reservation despite overwhelming findings against such reservation. He pointed that not only Bapat commission held that Marathas are in fact not backward, even the Supreme Court in the Mandal Commsision and subsequently Nagraj judgments had held that Marath community in Maharashtra did not qualify or pass the test of backwardness as required to carve out any reservation for them. The Narayan Rane Committee report is lacking in actual quantifiable data and as held by the Bombay high court in its interim order staying the ordinance, the committee had completed its study in hasty manner and based it on Talati's reports.

The SC had refused to entertain a plea by the state to challenge the stay granted by the HC earlier this week after observing that the high court's order was well reasoned. Besides the group of public interest litigation challenging the Maratha reservation is scheduled for a hearing in January first week in the HC.

The road ahead for the state which was well within its right though to place the bill in the House, is that it may seek an expedited hearing in the high court. The Governor is free to give assent to the bill once both Houses pass it. Right now only the Assembly has.

The state cabinet had in June first approved the populist proposal with an eye on the ensuing assembly elections to provide 16% reservation for backward Marathas and 5 per cent for Muslims in education and government jobs. As a result, the total reservation in the state went up to 73 per cent. In neighbouring Andhra Pradesh, reservation has crossed the mark of 83 per cent, while in Tamil Nadu, it is 69 per cent. In both these cases the higher judiciary had stayed the reservations.

The reservation for Marathas is in addition to the existing 52 per cent reservation for reserved communities.

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