Double Standard? Maha Govt Gives 10% Reservation to Marathas But Denies 1% Quota to Transgenders

The Maharashtra Assembly passed a bill during a special session, granting a 10 percent reservation to the Maratha community.
Transgender community protesting for horizontal reservation.
Transgender community protesting for horizontal reservation. Pic- Ashish Kumar Kataria

Mumbai: The Maharashtra Assembly on February 20 unanimously passed the Maratha Reservation Bill, paving the way for the community to get 10 percent reservation in government jobs in the state. However, when a similar demand for quota for the transgender community was raised, it was outrightly rejected, arguing that, if it is given, the Supreme Court-mandated 50 percent cap on reservation will increase. 

This alleged double standard raises questions about whether different communities are subject to different rules in the state.

The government claims that the grant of the 10 percent reservation to Marathas will not disrupt the existing Other Backward Classes (OBC) quota in the state. But the fact is it — if combined with existing quotas — will push the total reservation in the state to 62 percent.

It is worth mentioning that the bill, which will be brought in the legislative council’s special session for discussions, is distinct from the state government’s earlier notification regarding the issuance of Kunbi OBC certificates to eligible Marathas. The bill, if it becomes a legislation, will give reservation to non-Kunbi Marathas — ensuring a broader coverage of the community.

It seems that the state government is okay with exceeding the cap for the Maratha community, but the historically marginalised transgenders find no respite. 

In June 2023, the Maharashtra government told the Bombay High Court that establishing distinct reservations for transgenders in education and government employment would pose challenges.

Advocate General Birendra Saraf informed a division bench, comprising Acting Chief Justice Nitin Jamdar and Justice Sandeep Marne, that introducing additional reservations for transgenders would violate the Supreme Court’s prescribed 50 percent cap on total quota.

“When we went to court last year, the government had said it cannot provide one percent reservation to our community since it would result in a rise of 50 percent reservation cap,” Nikita Mukhidyal, a transgender activist from Maharashtra, told The Mooknayak. 

But in the case of the Maratha community, which is not socially, educationally or financially backward compared to the transgender community, she said, they had no issue crossing the limit.

“I will not mince my words today. I wholeheartedly feel the Maharashtra government is making sure we do not come to the mainstream and claim our rights,” she alleged.

Explaining the need for horizontal reservations, the activist said, “I am a Dalit transgender, and the SC men and women have reservations. We just want horizontal reservation so that a trans person from different communities can also claim their rights. Horizontal reservation anyway would not cross the limit decreed by the policy makers.”

Shamibha Patil, founder of the Transgender Hakka Adhikar Sangarsh Samiti from Maharashtra, asked, “If 10 percent can be allotted, what is the issue with just one percent?”

“We have been protesting for years now. We held protest demonstrations at Mumbai’s Azad Maidan thrice. During the Winter Session of the Assembly, we again protested to ensure that our demands were heard. We even staged a hunger strike. But nothing happened so far.”

They will wait for the final policy draft, she said, adding that they will hit the streets thereafter with the hope that other community members and social activists too join the cause.

The Mooknayak spoke to Advocate Deepak Sonawane, who has been working with the trans community, to ensure reservation for it. “Yesterday, the chief minister delivered a speech wherein he said providing reservations to the marginalised communities is the government’s duty. When we have a dialogue in the future with him, we will remind him of his own statement.”

He would be asked to compare the Marathas and the transgender community to conclude who are the most marginalised.

Talking about the future legal recourse, he said, “We will go to the court in the coming days. If a 10 percent vertical reservation can be passed, there should be no issue in passing one percent horizontal reservation.” 

He said before that, they would try to have a dialogue first.

What’s Horizontal Reservation?

The horizontal reservation, a facet of affirmative action, mandated by Article 15(3) of the Indian Constitution. It is designed to foster the inclusion of socially and economically disadvantaged groups by ensuring them a fixed percentage of positions in employment, education and political representation.

Given that horizontal reservations are proportionate to the population of specific sections, they do not impact the relative standing of different groups in comparison to each other.

The allocation of reserved seats is contingent on the total number of positions available. For instance, if the horizontal quota for transgenders is set at one percent, then one candidate from each vertical quota category must be a transgender.

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Transgender community protesting for horizontal reservation.
Inclusive Education: TN Govt to Cover Higher Education Costs for Transgender Community

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