The Maharashtra Assembly on Thursday unanimously passed a Bill proposing 16% reservation for Marathas in government jobs and education. With this, 85% of the State’s population will be entitled to constitutional benefits under Article 15(4), 16 (4) of the Constitution.The approval of the Bill will also see the reservation limit go up from the current 52%to 68%, thus crossing the 50% ceiling set by Supreme Court. “This is a compelling extraordinary situation demanding extraordinary solutions within the constitutional framework,” the draft Bill says while suggesting it “expedient” to provide for 16% reservation to the Marathas. Cheered by allAt the start of proceedings on Thursday, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis tabled the Bill in both Houses along with an Action Taken Report (ATR) on the recommendations by the Maharashtra State Backward Class Commission (MSBCC). The move was applauded by legislators who shouted slogans welcoming the draft Bill, later distributing sweets in the premises. “We have completed all the necessary procedures. I am therefore tabling the Bill for clearance of the House,” said the Chief Minister. Members of both Houses, cutting across party lines, walked up to the Chief Minster and thanked him for the decision. “The Government of Maharashtra has considered the report of the commission. On the basis of exhaustive study of the Commission, including employment, education, social status, economical status, living conditions, the government is of the opinion declaring Marathas SEBC,” the draft Bill said.‘Conditions apply’While retaining the principle of creamy layer for the purpose of reservation to the Socially and Educationally Backward Classes of Citizens, the Bill urged that reservation be made available to only those persons found “below” the layer.The draft Bill while giving a backdrop for the community, which constitutes 30% of state’s population, said the presence of Marathas in position of academic excellence is “very marginal”. On an average 4.30% academic and teaching posts are occupied by persons of Maratha community, and lack of conventional degree is keeping them in lowly employments such as mathadis, hamals, dabbawallas. “Around 70% are residing in kuchha homes, only 35.39% o them have personal tap water, 31.79% rely on traditional sources of firewood. While 2,152 Maratha farmers have committed suicide as against total suicides numbered 13,368 between 2013-18,” the draft Bill says.