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Maha Legislature unanimously passes 10pc Maratha quotas bill, evokes mixed reactions (Round Up)

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Maha Legislature unanimously passes 10pc Maratha quotas bill, evokes mixed reactions (Round Up)

Mumbai, Feb 20 (Ajit Weekly News) Marking a red-letter day for the state, the Maharashtra Legislature unanimously passed the Maratha Reservation Bill giving 10 percent quotas to the community in education and government jobs on Tuesday, has evoked mixed reactions.

The ‘Maharashtra State Reservation for Socially and Educationally Backward Classes Bill, 2024,’ was formally introduced in the assembly today at the Special Session of the Legislature this afternoon, and was cleared without opposition by the Assembly and then the Council, coinciding with the World Day of Social Justice (February 20).

Now, the Marathas will be entitled to 10 per cent reservations in educational institutions and in state government jobs, fulfilling a long-pending demand of the community.

However, Shivba Sanghatana leader Manoj Jarange-Patil, currently on the 11th day of his hunger-strike, expressed serious doubts whether the quotas would withstand legal scrutiny.

Legal expert and Council for Protection of Rights President Barrister Vinod Tiwari said that “this is a clear violation of Article 14 of the Constitution on equal treatment and equality before the law.”

“How can Marathas be given selective treatment while ignoring other castes in the society? Why was a similar survey not conducted for all the castes in the state before arriving at such conclusions and giving the quotas to one community,” demanded Tiwari.

The Opposition Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) leaders like Shiv Sena (UBT) President Uddhav Thackeray, Congress President Nana Patole, welcomed the development, while Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) asked “who has given the state the right to give these quotas.”

Addressing the House, Chief Minister Eknath Shinde spelt out the government’s position on the quotas issue, saying he was a soldier of the late Balasaheb Thackeray, he would implement his word, and said he felt proud to introduce the reservation for the Maratha community.

“This is the victory of the movement launched by (Shivba Sanghatana leader) Manoj Jarange-Patil, and is a day of fulfilment of the aspirations of the Marathas. This has been done without doing injustice to any other community including the OBCs or disturbing their quotas,” said Shinde, himself a Maratha.

He assured that this reservation will stand legal scrutiny before the courts and everybody had worked very hard to finalise it to ensure justice to the Marathas, as the Bill was passed without any opposition with thumping of desks.

The Bill was drafted on the basis of the Maharashtra State Backward Class Commission (MSBCC) report chaired by retired Justice Sunil Shukre which had found the Marathas to be socially and economically backward.

The panel report was submitted to the government on February 16, and adopted by the state cabinet this morning, along with the draft bill, which was later unanimously cleared by both houses at a one-day Special Session of the Legislature.

Among other things, the MSBCC survey revealed that Marathas constitute 28 per cent of the state’s 13-crore population, 84 per cent of the Maratha families do not fall under the ‘progressed category’, making them eligible for quotas, and of the total farmers’ suicides in Maharashtra, 94 per cent were Marathas.

Terming the developments as ‘historic and bold’, Shinde said that he had always adopted a positive attitude towards the demands of all communities, not just the Marathas, who have been struggling for over 40 years for justice.

He said that the Maratha quotas are being given after clearing all legal hurdles, and many states have gone beyond the upper ceiling of 50 per cent (mandated by the Supreme Court), and that the state government would be able to defend and safeguard it in the courts.

Shinde said that the 22 states have crossed the 50 percent quota mark, including Tamil Nadu and Bihar (69 per cent each), Haryana (67), Rajasthan (64), Gujarat 59 percent and West Bengal (55 per cent).

This was in response to apprehensions raised by the Maha Vikas Aghadi Opposition parties which wrote to the Chief Minister seeking clarifications on various points, including the tests before the law, and whether it could be detrimental to the OBCs, clarification on the ‘Kunbi Caste’ certificate notifications pertaining to the draft rules on ‘Sage-Soyare’ (family bloodline), as demanded by the striking Jarange-Patil.

In Jalna, Jarange-Patil said that his agitation would continue as the new proposal would breach the SC’s 50 percent quota cap, and it should have been given under the OBC category as a separate class.

“It doesn’t matter if the government gives 10-20 percent since outside the OBC category, any reservation can be challenged for flouting the SC limits. The best alternative would be to give quotas on the basis of the Kunbi-Maratha and Maratha-Kunbi historical records,” said the Shivba Sanghatana leader.

An irate ruling NCP Minister Chhagan Bhujbal urged the government to stop the ‘goonda-giri’ and blackmail perpetrated by Jarange-Patil.

(Quaid Najmi can be contacted at: q.najmi@ians.in)

–Ajit Weekly News


News Credits – I A N S

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