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Maharashtra govt files caveat in SC anticipating challenge to Maratha quota verdict

Maratha

New Delhi | The Maharashtra government on Friday filed a caveat in the Supreme Court anticipating challenge to the verdict passed by the Bombay High Court which upheld the constitutional validity of reservation for Maratha community in education and government jobs in the state.

A caveat is filed by a litigant in courts to ensure that no adverse orders are passed against the party without it being heard.

In its plea, the Maharashtra government said no ex-parte order should be passed on any plea challenging the June 27 judgement of the Bombay High Court on Maratha quota without hearing the state.

The high court, while upholding the constitutional validity of Maratha quota, has directed that it be slashed from the present 16 percent to 12 percent and 13 percent, respectively.

The court said the 50 percent cap on total reservations imposed by the Supreme Court could be exceeded in exceptional circumstances.

It also accepted the Maharashtra government’s argument that the Maratha community was socially and educationally backward, and the government was duty-bound to take steps for its progress.

The high court said while the reservation was valid, its quantum — 16 percent — was not justifiable. It should be reduced from the present 16 percent to 12 percent and 13 percent as recommended by the State Backward Classes Commission.

The Commission, in its report, had recommended 12 per cent quota in education and 13 per cent in jobs for Marathas.

The high court’s verdict came on a bunch of petitions challenging the state government’s decision to grant 16 per cent reservation to Marathas.

On November 30, 2018, the Maharashtra legislature passed a bill granting the 16 per cent reservation to the Marathas.

The community, which accounts for roughly a third of the state’s population, is politically dominant.

According to the 102nd amendment to the Constitution, reservation can be granted only if a particular community is named in the list prepared by the President.

The report submitted by the State Backward Classes Commission was based on quantifiable and contemporaneous data and was correct in classifying the Maratha community as socially and educationally backward, the high court said in the verdict.

It said it was aware that the Supreme Court had said reservations should not exceed 50 percent.

“However, in exceptional circumstances, the 50 percent cap can be exceeded, if the same is based on quantifiable and contemporaneous data,” the court held.

After the judgment was delivered, the state government told the court that it had already granted admissions to post-graduate medical courses under the 16 percent quota.

The petitioners against the quota had challenged the creation of the Socially and Educationally Backward Class for the Marathas and cited the 50 percent cap imposed by the Supreme Court.

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