In the early 1950s, the Maratha Mahasangh and Maratha Seva Sangh organised the first major agitation for reservation in government jobs and educational institutions. Throughout the history of the Marathas, the struggle for reservation has been an integral part of their lives. It was the same reason that caused many riots but ultimately led to the refusal of Muslim reservations.
Having heard the case for ten consecutive days on March 26, 2021, the Supreme Court reserved judgement and on May 5, 2021, declared the Maratha reservation unconstitutional and struck it down. A long-running court and Maratha battle ended as Bombay’s high court gave Marathas reservations, but on the condition that it should be reduced to 12-13%. The purpose of this article is to examine the details of the verdict and the events surrounding the Maratha quota law through a chronological approach.
During the Maratha Mahasangh and the Maratha Seva Sangh’s first agitation for reservations in government jobs and educational institutions, significant progress for Maratha rights was made. Agrarian communities have been called Kunbis, which has been used in western parts of the country to identify Marathas as members of the upper caste.
Several former chief ministers have supported this demand, including Sharad Pawar and Vilasrao Deshmukh.
The demand for reservations for the Marathas is backed by parties and organisations.
Prithviraj Chavan’s Congress-Nationalist Congress Party-led government approved a proposal to reserve 16 per cent of government jobs and 5 percent of educational seats for Marathas on June 25, 2014. In its decision of November 14, the Bombay High Court stayed the decision of the previous Democratic Front government. 16 per cent reservation was given to top Marathas in the government due to this decision.
An application was filed to the Supreme Court on November 15 by the Bharatiya Janata Party-Shiv Sena government. In a judgement dated December 18, the Supreme Court refused to rescind the Bombay High Court’s order extending reservation to the Maratha community in public employment.
A government decision has been made to submit additional information to the Bombay High Court to support reservations for Marathas as of January 6, 2015.
In Aurangabad, the first Maratha Kranti morcha was held on August 9, 2016. There is an affidavit filed on December 5 by the Maharashtra government justifying the Marathas’ reservation as legal and that it did not violate constitutional law. The winter session of the Maharashtra legislature was being held on December 14 when the Maratha morcha took place in Nagpur.
Maratha community members were allowed to serve on the State Backward Class Commission on June 7, 2017. Thousands of Marathi protesters marched in Mumbai on August 9.
Maharashtra legislature, meeting in Nagpur during the monsoon session, was rocked by the issue of Maratha reservations in July 2018. CM Devendra Fadnavis is told not to conduct the Ekadashi puja of Lord Vitthal Rukmini by Maratha associations on 17 July in Pandharpur. A day after cancelling his trip to Pandharpur, CM Rajasekhar says his government will keep fighting for Maratha reservations. In November, the Maharashtra government will receive the report from the M.G. Gaikwad Commission.
According to the Maharashtra legislature, the Maratha community is considered a backward and economically disadvantaged one by the government. As such, they are entitled to a 16% reservation in education and government jobs. The Bombay High Court dismissed several petitions challenging the quota decision on December 3. This was because they violated Supreme Court orders that reservations should not exceed 50% within any state. The Bombay High Court dismisses petitions for a final hearing despite refusing an interim stay on December 5.
Maharashtra’s government filed an affidavit in January 2019 explaining that they would grant Maratha reservation to alleviate the “economic and social” hardships this community faces. Justices Ranjit More and Bharti Dangre will sit on a division bench to hear the final appeal about the Maratha reservation on February 6. In March, the High Court concluded the proceedings. Judgements are reserved.
According to the High Court, it will issue its verdict on the Maratha community reservation petitions by June 27. The High Court affirms that Maratha reservations are constitutional, but rejects the recommendation by the State Backward Classes Commission to reduce them from 16 to 12 to 13 per cent. There was an appeal filed against the HC verdict before the Supreme Court in July.
SC refers to a case about whether a class in India is socially and economically backwards to a larger bench on September 9, 2019.
At the end of 10 consecutive days of hearings, the five-judge bench at the SC reserved judgement on March 26, 2021. Maratha reservation was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court on May 5.
The state’s chief minister thanked everyone who helped bring the bill to the HC and said that the state is pleased the court will accept its contention that the state can grant reservations. Moreover, the High Court justifies the 50% breach limit in “exceptional” and “extraordinary” circumstances. In its defence, the government said that the move was meant to ease the economic and social plight of the Maratha community. In consequence, it is fairly easy to conclude that the Marathas have finally been able to resolve their long-standing issue positively.