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SC reserves order in pleas against Maratha reservation

Socially and Educationally Backward Classes Act, 2018, enacted to grant reservation to the Maratha community people in jobs and education

The Supreme Court on Friday reserved its judgement on petitions challenging the constitutional validity of a Maharashtra law that grants reservation to the Maratha community in education and jobs.

A five-judge Constitution Bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan, L Nageswara Rao, S Abdul Nazeer, Hemant Gupta and Ravindra Bhat also reserved the judgement on the issue of whether the top court’s 1992 verdict for capping reservation at 50 per cent needs re-examination. The Bench, during the hearing, had also decided to hear all state governments in the matter after a question of whether the top court’s nine-judge bench Indra Sawhney judgement, the ceiling on reservation fixed by the Court, should be re-considered cropped up.

The final hearings in the case had commenced on March 15.
The bench was hearing appeals challenging the Bombay High Court order that upheld reservations to Marathas in jobs and education under Maharashtra Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC) Act, 2018.

The High Court, while upholding the Maratha quota, held that 16 per cent reservation is not justifiable and ruled that reservation should not exceed 12 per cent in employment and 13 per cent in education as recommended by the State Backward Commission.

The Bombay High Court on June 27, 2019, had said the 50 per cent cap on total reservations imposed by the Supreme Court could be exceeded in exceptional circumstances.

During the hearing, the Central government said that it is of the view that the SEBC Act, which extends reservations to the Maratha community in public education and employment, is constitutional.

The Attorney General of India, KK Venugopal had earlier stated that States continue to have powers to identify socially and educationally backward classes in so far as it relates to reservations for State institutions.

One of the appeals filed by J Laxman Rao Patil had earlier sought to stay on the High Court order as the reservation today is 65 per cent in education and 62 per cent in jobs, exceeding 50 per cent cap in total reservation.

Another appeal filed by advocate Sanjeet Shukla, a representative of “Youth for Equality”, said the Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC) Act, 2018, enacted to grant reservation to the Maratha community people in jobs and education, breached the 50-per cent ceiling on reservation fixed by the top court in its judgment in the Indira Sawhney case. 

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