Maratha Reservation in Maharashtra: A Challenge to the Principles of Equality
Keywords:Articles 15(4) & 16 (4), Ceiling Limit, Extraordinary Situation, M G Gaikwad Commission, Socially and Educationally Backward Classes Act, 2018
The Maharashtra Government has passed a Special Educational and Backward class Act, 2018 to provide additional reservation for Marathas. Article 15(4) and 16(4) authorizes the State to provide reservation for backward classes. However, the same has to be exercised in a very cautious manner. The judicial approach towards reservation has resulted in the evolution of numerous requirements that are mandated to be fulfilled, while providing reservation. This includes, inter alia, a ceiling limit of 50%, inadequacy of representation and quantifiable data. Maratha reservation took the total reservation count in the state to 68%, which is way ahead of the ceiling limit. The step was considered to be more towards appeasing politically influential Marathas than to do justice to them. Upon being challenged in Bombay High Court, the court upheld the reservation and gave a justification for the existence of extraordinary circumstances in favour of reservation for Marathas. This paper aims to constitutionally analyze the said Act, to understand whether the Marathas fulfil all the abovementioned yardsticks of ‘backwardness’. The paper also aims to determine whether creating a separate class for Marathas is justifiable or not.
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