Published On : Tue, Mar 26th, 2019

Bombay HC refuses to stay quota in education for Marathas

Nagpur/Mumbai: In a major relief to Maharashtra Government, the Bombay High Court on Tuesday refused to stay the reservation in education for Marathas.

Hearing on the matter was being held since February 6 this year. Several PILs opposing and supporting Maratha reservation are filed in the High Court. The hearing was concluded on Tuesday. The State Government had announced 16 percent reservation to Maratha community in education and employment. However, the court had already stayed quota in jobs. Thereafter, the quota opponent petitioners had also sought stay on reservation in education but the High Court has refused to stay it.

On November 30, 2018, the Maharashtra Legislature passed the Bill giving 16% quota to the Marathas following an intense agitation by the community under Socially and Economically Backward Class (SEBC) nomenclature. The Maratha quote came into force from December 1, 2018.

State Govt files caveat in Supreme Court:

As a precautionary measure, the Maharashtra had filed a caveat in the Supreme Court seeking a hearing in the event of anyone challenging the new Maharashtra Reservation Act granting 16 per cent reservations to Marathas in education and jobs. The caveat, filed by Maharashtra Government in the apex court, reads thus: “No order be passed in the matter without notice to the Maharashtra Government. The caveator (Maharashtra Government) was the authorised party who issued the Maharashtra Act.”

The first PIL opposing 16 percent reservation to Marathas in education and jobs was filed by Adv Gunratna Sadavarte who had sought cancellation of quota to Maratha community. Immediately after that, the second PIL was filed by Youth for Equality. In their petitions, the petitioners had argued that the reservation to Marathas in the State violates the Constitution, and the Socially and Economically Backward Class (SEBC) nomenclature adopted by the government refers to a ‘class’ and not a ‘caste.’

The PIL, filed by Sadavarte, said that the new Maratha reservations – better known as the Maharashtra State (of seats for admission in educational institutions in the state and for appointments in the public services and posts under the state) for Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC) Act, 2018 — is in violation of the 50 per cent cap imposed by the Supreme Court on reservations.

Among other things, the petition States that the Maratha community — the Kunbi-Marathas — have already been given a reservation under the Other Backward Classes (OBC) category and the additional reservations will only create a class within a class, affecting those who do not belong to any reserved category.

Opposing a stay on the new Maratha Reservation Act sought by Sadavarte, State’s counsel VA Thorat told the court that the petitioner could not seek a stay on the state legislation through a PIL. In his argument, Thorat said that most of the petitions pending in the high court opposed the Maratha quota on the basis of the 2014 Act that provided for reservation to those belonging to socially backward communities in the State. However, the 2014 Act now stood repealed and the state legislature had recently ratified the new Maratha Reservation Act to cover the issue of quota for the community. “The new legislation takes care of all legal grievances that existed in the 2014 Act,” Thorat told the HC bench.