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  • Supriya Kuchekar

Decoding Maratha Reservation: Striking a Fair Balance

Supriya Kuchekar

Modern Law college Pune

Introduction:

Maratha has been demanding reservations about jobs and education, this issue has 40 years of history. The demand is not new[i]. At the beginning of the Maratha reservation in the 1980s. the Mathadi Kamgar Labour Union leader Anna Saheb Patil raised the first voice, for Maratha should get reservations in jobs and education. After struggling and facing the fights with Gov. nothing happened, he lost the fight and under pressure what should I answer to my Maratha community he ended his life himself. And the Maratha reservation issue lapsed. Then in the last decennium, the Formative year of the last decennium the issue was protested once again[ii] just ahead of the 2014 election by the Congress, and the NCP Government led by Pruthviraj Chavan passed the order and said they would give the reservation to the Maratha in jobs and education sectors for 16%. Later in 2014 Government changed the BJP and the Shiv Sena came into force. Then this issue was challenged in the Bombay High Court this was not stand in High Court. And once again the issue went to the back burner.


What is a reservation under the Indian Constitution:

Reservation means reserving access to seats in government jobs, educational institutes, and even legislatures to certain sections of the population. The reservation quota in India for government jobs[iii] ST 7.5%, SC 15, OBC27, EWS10 total is 59.50%


Historical background for reservation:

1. In 1882 William Hunter and Jyotibarao Phule first time conceived the idea of the caste-based reservation system.

2. The reservation system that exists today was introduced by British Prime Minister Ramsay Macdonald presented the ‘Communal Award’ in 1933.[iv]

3. The provisions made for the separate electorates for Muslims, Sikhs, Indian Christians, Anglo-Indians, Europeans, and the Dalits.

4. After a long negotiation and settlement, the Poona Pact was signed between Mahatma Gandhi Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, and 23 other people main intention behind signing the Poona Pact was to shape the political representation of the depressed classes, now known as Scheduled Cast (SC).

5. After freedom, primarily reservation was provided to only SCs and STs.

6. In 1991 on the recommendations of the Mandal Commission OBCs were included in the ambit of reservation.

Case Laws: Indra Sawhney's vs. Union Of India 1992[v]

Issue: Mainly this case deals with the backward class reservation awarded by the government.

The fact of the case: In 1953 there was the Backword Classes Commission set, the head of this commission was named Kaka Kalelkar[vi], this commission found 2399 castes as Backward classes based on social and educational criteria and submitted to the Central Gov. Later, this report was not accepted by the Central Government.

After this rejection in 1979 once again the commission was set based on the Social and Educational Backward Classes (SEBCs) commission by the Janta Dal Party that time Morarji Desai was the PM, and this time the head of the commission was B.P. Mandal, hence this commission is known as a Mandal commission, in 1980 Mandal Commission submitted their report to the President (Neelam Sanjiva Reddy) in this report 3743 castes shown as a SEBCs, the commission recommended these castes (collectively) should get 27% reservation in public services. Unfortunately, this report was not enforced by the Gov. because the government fell, again in 1989 the Janta party became a ruler party at that time V.P. Singh was the PM. PM V.P. Singh issued an office memorandum to implement the recommendations of the Mandal Commission at this Stape PMs all over the country protested what had happened against the Gov. In that bad situation, the Supreme Court Bar Association challenged the memorandum and filed a petition in the Supreme Court, 5 bench judges stayed on the given office memorandum till the date of 1st October 1990. Once again in 1991 Government changed and was governed by the Congress party then PM added the 10% reservation in the memorandum for other economically backward populations. Overall reservations went to 37%, In 1992 Indra Sawhney who was a journalist filed a PIL and challenged the order of the Government.

Legal issues:

1. Whether Article 16(4) is an exception to Article 16 (1)?

2. Whether Caste System be used for reservation?

3. What would be the content of the phrase “Backword Class” in article 16 (4) of the constitution?

4. What would be the maximum percentage of reserved seats out of the total seats?

5. Is reservation restricted to the initial appointment to the post or would be extended to promotions as well?

Resolution: there were 9 judges Constitutional Bench was formed in 1992, and the ratio was 6:3 for the Majority. In this case, the court has used the concept of the creamy layer. Creamy Layer should not be provided with any kind of reservation. Supreme Court said Reservation shall not exceed 50 percent, and set the limit on the reservation.

Reservation should not be in promotion. The Supreme Court directed to the Government that is make a statutory body to regulate the inclusion and exclusion of castes in the register. If there is any new dispute or criteria related to the reservation then that will be listed by the court only. Finally, the Supreme Court has accepted and implemented the Mandal Commission's report[vii].

Current Situation:

The Turning point in 2016 was the Maratha young girl from Kopardi (Ahmednagar, Maharashtra) gang rape and murder by 4 people from her village. Once again Maratha came on the road protesting for justice for the girl and demanding the reservation which had been pending for the last few decenniums. Then once again all around the state, Marathas gathered under the banner “Maratha Kranti Morcha” There were 58 silent protests held by the Marathas across Maharashtra. All the protests were silent one was held in the capital of Maharashtra Mumbai. Between 2017 and 2018 the protest became violent after this violent protest Government looked into the matter present Government led by the BJP-SHIVSENA later Chief Minister Devendra Fhadanvis decided to sanction the reservation to the Maratha under the jobs and education sector which was similar to early Pruthviraj Chavan government had passed the reservation 16%. The most challenged High Court, the Bombay High Court held the reservation demand but the court struck down the percentage from 16% to 12% for education and 13% for the job sector. Then again once the government was changed in 2019 the reservation was challenged in the Supreme Court Maharashtra already has a 50% reservation[viii] and 10% EWS giving another 10% to 15% would breach the cap which is why it was challenged in the Supreme Court hence Supreme Court struck on the Maratha reservation. Now the currently 40-year-old farmer named Manoj Jarange Patil protested and went on a hunger strike for the Maratha reservation, he joined the movement for reservations for the Maratha in government jobs and education about 15 years ago. Jarange Patil was involved in several Morcha protests. On January 20th, 2024 he led a procession toward Mumbai, with thousands of supporters, On Saturday Maharashtra CM met activist Jarange Patil in Navi Mumbai after accepting his demands. Jarange Patil called off his protest as the government responded to the demands. Still, there is a question is this the full truth? The government accepted the demands. As we look into the matter CM had accepted the demand. In the current situation after Jarange Patil's protest CM Eknath Shinde approved a bill for 10% to Maratha's reservation in jobs and education. Earlier in 2018 the Devendra Fadanvis government brought in the socially and educationally Backward Class Act providing a 16% Maratha quota in gov. jobs and education. It was on the sample-based survey by the M G Gaikwad Commission set up by the state. Till the reservation story is not ended.


Conclusion:

An Odyssey of the Maratha reservation[ix] issue in Maharashtra reflects a complex history of Identity, equity, and social justice, from inception in the early 1980s to the recent developments in 2024 the struggle for reservation has been marked by both victory and retreat.

Went back to the colonial time, underscores the deep-rooted challenges of cast-based discrimination[x] and the subsequent efforts to address them through affirmative action. The legal battles epitomized by the landmark Indira Sawhney case, have shaped the contours of reservation policies, setting examples and limitations for future discussion.

The Maratha community's discovery of reservation has been moved by various accelerators. Recently Manoj Jarange Patil showed a strong and never-give-up attitude toward marginalized groups showing how they keep fighting for fairness and equal chances,[xi] even the things are tough.

It underlines the timeless fact that progress toward equality is not the end of the line but a journey, one that requires ongoing commitment, advocacy, and solidarity for all shareholders.


References:

[i] YouTube channel The Print by Purva Chitnis.

[iv] You Tube channel Entertainment Law Classes.

[v] Indira Sawhney vs. Union of India

[vi] Kaka Kalelkar Commission

[ix] Keywords, Maratha reservation

[x] Cast-based discrimination

[xi] Equal chance.

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