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Daily News Analysis

Maratha Quota Explained: Everything you need to know as Supreme Court begins hearings today

27th July, 2020 Editorial


  • The Supreme Court will commence daily final hearing on a batch of petitions challenging the reservation granted to the Maratha community in education and jobs in Maharashtra.

About Marathas:

  • The Marathas are a group of castes comprising peasants, landowners among others.
  • Historically, Marathas have been identified as a ‘warrior’ caste with large land-holdings.
  • Since the formation of the Maharashtra state in 1960, of its 19 chief ministers, 11 have been from the Maratha community.
  • Division of land and agrarian problems over the years have led to a decline of prosperity among middle class and lower middle-class Marathas.

Ruling of the Bombay High Court:

  • Ruled that the 16 per cent quota granted by the state was not ‘justifiable’.
  • Reduced it to 12 per cent in education and 13 per cent in government jobs.
  • Limit of reservation should not exceed 50%.
  • The limit can be increased:
    • Subject to availability of quantifiable and contemporaneous data reflecting backwardness,
    • Inadequacy of representation
    • Without affecting the efficiency in administration.
  • The Court had said that while the backwardness of the community was not comparable with SCs and STs, it was comparable with several other backward classes.

Finding of the Maharashtra State Backward Class Commission (MSBCC) on Marathas:

Social Backwardness:

  • 86 % of Maratha families are engaged in agriculture and agricultural labour for their livelihood
  • Nearly 70% reside in Kachha dwellings,
  • 35- 39 % have personal tap water connections.
  • In 2013-2018, a total of 2,152 (23.56%) Maratha farmers died by suicide, against total 13, 368 farmer suicides.
  • 81 % Maratha women are involved in physical labour for earning livelihood.

Educational Backwardness:

  • 42 % of Marathas are illiterate,
  • 31 % primary educated,
  • 79 % HSC and SSC,
  • 71 % undergraduates and postgraduates
  • 77 % technically and professionally qualified.

Economic backwardness:

  • 93 % Maratha families have an annual income of Rs 1 lakh, which was below average income of middle-class families.
  • 38% families were Below Poverty line against the state average of 24% 
  • 71% own less than 2.5 acres land, whereas only 2.7% big farmers own 10 acres of land.
  • Also established inadequacy of representation of the Maratha community in public employment in the state.

Current Status in Maharashtra:

  • A nine-judge bench of the Supreme Court, in the 1993 Indra Sawhney case, which is known as Mandal Commission case, had ruled that total reservation for backward classes cannot go beyond the 50%-mark.
  • Following the 2001 State Reservation Act, the total reservation was 52 per cent.
  • With the addition of 12-13 per cent Maratha quota, the total reservation in the state is 64-65 per cent.
  • The 10 % Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) quota announced by the Centre last year is also effective in the state.

Supreme Court Verdict in Mandal Commission:

  • Backward classes in Article 16(4) were not like as socially and educationally backward in article 15(4).
  • Creamy layer must be barred from the backward classes.
  • Article 16(4) grants characterization of backward classes into backward & more backward classes.
  • A backward class of citizen can't be distinguished just and solely with reference to financial criteria.
  • Reservation should not exceed 50%.
  • Reservation can be made by the Executive Order.
  • No reservation in promotion.
  • Permanent Statutory body to look at whines of over – inclusion /under – inclusion.
  • Majority held that there is no need to express any opinion on the accuracy or ampleness of the activity done by the Mandal Commission.
  • Disputes with respect to new criteria can only be raised in the Supreme Court.