The Maharashtra legislative assembly on Tuesday passed the ‘Reservation Bill for Socially and Educationally Backward Classes in Maharashtra State 2024’, granting 10% reservation to the Maratha community in both educational institutions and government employment.

During the day-long special session of the legislature on the Maratha quota, chief minister Eknath Shinde presented the Maharashtra State Socially and Educationally Backward Bill 2024 in the House. The bill suggests that a review of the reservation could be considered after a period of 10 years once it is implemented.

“The decision taken for reservation is historic, bold and enduring. Therefore, the Chief Minister Eknath Shinde requested all the members to pass this bill unanimously, after which the 'Reservation Bill for Socially and Educationally Backward Classes in Maharashtra State 2024' was unanimously passed in the Legislative Assembly,” the chief minister of Maharashtra posted via social media platform X.

The impetus behind this decision can be traced back to the ongoing hunger strike by Maratha quota activist Manoj Jarange-Patil in the Antarwali Saarati village in Jalna district.

The proposed bill mirrors the Socially and Educationally Backward Classes Act, 2018, previously introduced during the tenure of the then Chief Minister, Devendra Fadnavis.

This legislation, breaching the 50% cap set by a 1992 Supreme Court ruling on total reservations in government jobs and educational institutions, stems from recommendations put forth by the Maharashtra Backward Classes Commission (MBCC) report. The MBCC, in its report, designates Marathas as socially and educationally backward, invoking "extraordinary circumstances" to justify surpassing the reservation threshold.

Established in June 2017 by the then Chief Minister Fadnavis, the MBCC officially categorised Marathas as a socially and educationally backward (SEBC) class in its November 2018 report. Following this classification, the Fadnavis administration implemented the SEBC Act in the same month, thereby instituting reservations for the Maratha community.

However, in 2021, the Supreme Court invalidated the Act, contending that there were no exceptional circumstances justifying the breach of the 50% cap on overall reservations. Following this verdict, Maharashtra filed a review plea, which was subsequently rejected. A curative petition was then filed by the state government.

The latest round of reservations has been extended based on a report submitted by the MBCC, headed by retired Justice Sunil Shukre. The report, conducted within a nine-day timeframe, surveyed 2.5 crore Maratha households to evaluate the community's social and educational backwardness.

The state already allocates a 10% quota for the Economically Weaker Section (EWS), with the Marathas securing 85% within this category.

Last week, Shinde affirmed his government's commitment to granting reservations to the Maratha community without altering the existing reservation structure for other communities.

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