Maratha Reservation issue: Quota for Marathas locked in legal hurdle

Mumbai: The 102nd constitutional amendment bill may become a hurdle in granting a quota to the Marathas. This bill states all major policies affecting socially and educationally backward classes can be implemented only after consulting the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC).

The State Backward Class Commission (SBCC) has recommended the state can grant Marathas the status of backward classes and give them reservation in educational institutes and government jobs. An official from the law and judiciary (L&J) department has expressed fear that if the NCBC were to reject the recommendation of the SBCC, the state will not be able to enforce the decision to grant quota.

Senior officials, including L&J and social justice department secretaries working on the new draft bill to be introduced in the state legislature that will allow quota for the Marathas are now poring over this amendment bill.  An official said, “Section 338B, sub-clause 9 of the 102nd constitutional amendment bill passed in both Houses of the Parliament in August, reads, “(9) The Union and every State Government shall consult the Commission (National Commission for Backward Classes, NCBC) on all major policy matters affecting the socially and educationally backward classes”.

“This means the state government will have to consult the NCBC before it goes ahead with granting reservation to the Maratha community. If the NCBC objects, the decision could get stuck,” the official pointed out. Officials from the social justice and L & J departments were busy in daylong meetings over the SCBC report on Friday.

The dilemma of the government is whether to move the earlier bill that granted reservation to the community but was stayed by the Bombay High Court, or move fresh legislation. Secondly, the government is unsure whether its move to grant 16 per cent reservation to the Marathas, adding to the already existing overall reservation quota of 52 per cent, will be granted by the HC.

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