The Bombay High Court on Thursday upheld the constitutional validity of reservation for the Maratha community in government jobs and education.

A division bench of Justices Ranjit More and Bharati Dangre, however, said the quota percentage should be reduced from 16 per cent to 12 to 13 per cent, as recommended by the State Backward Classes Commission.

It said the 16 per cent reservation was “not justifiable”.

“We hold and declare that the state government possesses legislative competence to create a separate category of the Socially and Educationally Backward Class (SEBC) and grant reservation,” the court said.

“We, however, have held that the 16 per cent should be reduced to 12 to 13 per cent as recommended by the commission,” the bench said.

The court was hearing a bunch of petitions challenging Maharashtra government’s decision granting 16 per cent reservation to the Maratha community in government jobs and educational institutions.

On November 29, 2018, the Maharashtra Assembly had unanimously passed a bill proposing 16 per cent reservation for Marathas under the socially and educationally backward category.

The bill provides for reservation of seats for admission in educational institutions and posts in public services to Marathas who have been declared as socially and educationally backward class of citizens.

Maratha reservation issue figured prominently during the Monsoon Session of the Assembly held in Nagpur in June 2018.

The Maratha community, which comprises over 30 per cent of the state’s population, had been seeking reservation in government jobs and education for a long time. Their stir for the same in July and August this year had taken a violent turn.

Violent protests were reported from different parts of Maharashtra in July after agitators took the streets demanding reservation for Maratha community in government jobs and education.

The protest turned ugly as Maratha Kranti Morcha workers set ablaze a truck in Aurangabad’s Gangapur. Tyres were burnt in front of the Osmanabad collector’s office and train services were blocked in Parbhani district.

Following this, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said his government would provide 16 per cent reservation in government jobs to the Maratha community. He also said a recruitment drive would be taken up for 72,000 people once Maratha reservation got constitutional and legal sanction, promising “no injustice” to the Maratha community.

(With agency inputs)