The Maharashtra government on Monday announced that members of the Maratha community would be accommodated in the 10% quota for Economically Weaker Section, PTI reported. An order was issued by the General Administration Department of the state government.

This came four weeks after the Supreme Court scrapped a separate reservation in jobs and education for the community, calling it unconstitutional. In 2019, the Central government had extended EWS reservation in education and jobs to poorer sections with annual income less than Rs 8 lakh. This is meant for sections of society not covered by any reservation.

The Maharashtra government order said the Maratha community, which has been classified as a Socially and Economically Backward Class, can take benefits of EWS quota. It will be applicable to the community from September 9, 2020, when the Supreme Court brought an interim stay on the reservation, to May 5, 2021, when the final verdict was announced.

At least 6,000 people are expected to benefit from the new order. The provision, however, will not be applicable to those who had already been appointed under the SEBC quota in appointments and admissions, the order said. It can also be used retrospectively for selection processes announced before September 9, 2020, in which no appointments have been made.

“The state government decision is a ploy to diffuse the unrest among the Maratha community,” Maratha Kranti Morcha General Secretary Rajendra Kondhare said, according to The Indian Express. “And to show the government was doing something.”

The Shiv Sena, Nationalist Congress Party and Congress-led Maha Vikas Aghadi government has also extended the tenure of the Justice Dilip Bhosale Committee till June 7. It was set up to review the Supreme Court’s verdict and advice the state on the future course of action.

Maratha reservation

In 2018, the then Devendra Fadnavis-led government in Maharashtra had approved 16% reservation for the Marathas in jobs and education after statewide protests. While hearing petitions against the move in 2019, the Bombay High Court upheld the constitutional validity of the law, but stated that 16% reservation was not justifiable. It directed the state government to reduce the quota to 12%-13% as per the recommendations of the State Backward Classes Commission.

The High Court’s verdict was subsequently challenged in the Supreme Court, which stayed the decision in September 2020. The court then issued a notice to all states, seeking their response on whether reservation could be allowed beyond the 50% ceiling.

At least six states – Karnataka, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and Jharkhand – asked the Supreme Court to increase the cap on reservation. The Centre also told the court that the law passed by the Maharashtra Assembly was a constitutional one.