Since the Marathas are already covered in 16 percent reservation, even though the validity of the bill is subjudice, the 10 percent EWS quota cannot be extended to the community.
The Maharashtra government issued a notification on February 12 regarding the implementation of 10 percent reservation in jobs and education for Economically Weaker Section (EWS) in the general category in the state.
The notification issued by the Fadnavis-led administration made it clear that the reservation, which will be applicable from February 1, won't be extended to the Maratha community, as per a report in The Indian Express.
In an attempt to reach out to the EWS sections among upper castes, the Modi government had rolled out 10 percent reservation in jobs and educational institutions early this year. This reservation is over and above the existing 50 percent quota for the Scheduled Castes (SC), Scheduled Tribes (SC) and the Other Backward Classes (OBCs).
Why did the Maharashtra government exclude Marathas from the EWS quota?
In November 2018, amid strong agitation by the community, the Maharashtra Assembly had passed a bill granting 16 percent reservation for Marathas under Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBCs) category.
This led to the reservation limit going up from 52 to 68 percent, breaching the 50 percent ceiling earmarked by the Supreme Court. Consequentially, several petitions were filed in the Bombay High Court against the validity of the Bill, and it is yet to pass judicial scrutiny. Meanwhile, the government has submitted an undertaking to the court stating that it won’t be implemented during the pendency of the case.
Since the Marathas are already covered in 16 percent reservation, even though the validity of the bill is subjudice, the 10 percent EWS quota cannot be extended to the community, keeping in line with the Centre's clause that "excludes poorer sections among the categories that are already covered under some reservation".
Political ramifications of the move
Meanwhile, the OBCs fear that in the eventuality that the court strikes down the bill granting independent 16 percent quota to Marathas, the community will be included among the OBCs. In fact, a report released by Maharashtra’s Backward Class Commission in January this year counted the Marathas on par with the Kunbis, The Indian Express has reported. The Kunbis are included in the OBC category.
However, Fadnavis, as though wary of its political ramifications, has been vocal in reassuring the non-Maratha electorate that "the existing reservation for the OBCs won't be affected in any way".It is important to note that it was the previous Congress-NCP coalition administration in Maharashtra which had first proposed 16 percent reservation for Marathas in the run-up to the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. However, the High Court had ruled against the move. Interestingly, the OBCs decisively voted for the BJP in the elections that followed.