Maratha Quota Challenged in Court as Unconstitutional and Politically Motivated


Mumbai: A group of petitioners, led by lawyer Jayshree Patil, has filed a public interest litigation (PIL) in the Bombay High Court on Friday, seeking to quash the Maharashtra government’s decision to grant 10 percent reservation to the Maratha community in jobs and education. The petitioners have alleged that the decision is a result of “dirty politics” by the ruling and opposition parties and that it violates the basic structure of the Constitution by exceeding the 50 percent ceiling on reservation.

The PIL has stated that the Maharashtra State Socially and Educationally Backward Bill 2024, which was passed unanimously by the state legislature on February 20, is a “politically motivated” move to appease the Maratha community, which constitutes about 33 percent of the state’s population and wields significant political influence. The petitioners have argued that the bill does not follow the fair and proper procedure of identifying the backwardness of the Maratha community and that it does not show any exceptional circumstances to justify the breach of the 50 percent limit on the reservation.

The PIL has also claimed that the bill is unfair to the non-reserved category, which comprises 38 percent of the state’s population, and that it will create a “majoritarian” reservation system that will destroy the basic structure of the Constitution. The petitioners have urged the High Court to declare the bill “unconstitutional” and strike it down, citing the Supreme Court’s guidelines on reservation.

The PIL has come at a time when the Maratha reservation issue has reignited in the state, with protests and violence by the pro-quota activists. One of the activists, Manoj Jarange Patil, has been on a hunger strike for more than a week, demanding that the government consider all Marathas as Kunbi, a sub-caste of Maratha, to entitle them to reservation benefits available to the Other Backward Classes (OBC). The state government, led by Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, has reiterated its support for the Maratha quota and has said that it will defend its decision in court.

Bombay High Court

The Bombay High Court is expected to hear the PIL in the coming days and decide the fate of the Maratha reservation. The case is likely to have far-reaching implications for the state’s politics and social justice.