Mumbai: The Maharashtra legislature on Tuesday unanimously passed the bill providing 10 per cent reservation to the Maratha community in government jobs and education in a special session. Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde said that the existing OBC reservation will not be affected and his government will also ensure that the Maratha quota passes legal scrutiny. 

The government convened the one-day session of the state legislature. Shinde tabled the Maharashtra State Socially and Educationally Backward Bill 2024 first in the legislative Assembly and subsequently in the legislative council. Both the houses passed it unanimously without any discussion. Only Shinde spoke on the bill after which it was taken up for voting.

Following the 10 per cent reservation for the Maratha community, the total reservation in Maharashtra will go up to 72 per cent. This includes the existing 13 per cent quota or SCS, seven percent for STs, 19 per cent for OBCs, two per cent for special backward class (SBC), 11 per cent for four categories of nomadic tribes and 10 per cent EWS quota provided by the Centre to poor among forward castes.

The Supreme Court had earlier struck down the Maratha reservation act of 2019 on the ground that it breached the 50 per cent limit on the reservation. However, Chief Minister Shinde said he is confident that the Maratha reservation bill will survive the legal scrutiny and also claimed that many other states have crossed the 50 per cent reservation. “We are confident that this

government will be successful in safeguarding the reservation in the court. We are giving this reservation by clearing all legal obstacles and after an extensive survey done by the Maharashtra State Backward Class Commission,” Shinde said.

As per the commission’s report, the level of education of the Maratha community is low, particularly in terms of completion of secondary education and attainment of degrees, post-graduate degrees and professional courses. The commission has concluded that economic backwardness is the biggest obstacle to education. The commission also held that the 21.22 per cent of population from the Maratha community lives below the poverty line, which is higher than the state’s overall average of 17.4 per cent, which means that they are economically backward.

However, the Opposition parties doubted if the new act will survive in the court. They alleged that the government has enacted the law only in the wake of elections this year and it is fooling the Maratha community. Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Assembly Vijay Waddettiwar called it a “farce”. “The law on the Maratha reservation was passed earlier also, but it was rejected by the Supreme Court. This was done conveniently before polls. The legislation will not stand the test of law,” he said. Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray also called it a farce to win elections. “The government has deceived the Maratha community and OBCs,” Thackeray said.

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