SC annuls Maratha quota; no review of 50% reservation cap
The Supreme Court on Wednesday struck down a Maharashtra law granting reservations to the Maratha community in admissions and government jobs in the state. The apex court unanimously held that there were no exceptional circumstances justifying the grant of reservation to Marathas above the 50% ceiling limit as a Socially and Economically Backward Class (SEBC). Here are more details.
SC struck down Maharashtra State Reservation for SEBC Act, 2018
A five-judge bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, L Nageswara Rao, S Abdul Nazeer, Hemant Gupta, and S Ravindra Bhat struck down the Maharashtra State Reservation for SEBC Act, 2018. "The 2018 Act as amended in 2019 granting reservation for Maratha community does not make out any exceptional circumstance to exceed the ceiling limit of 50% reservation," the bench held, according to Bar and Bench.
2018 Act violates principles of equality: SC
The 2018 Act violates the principles of equality, the bench said adding that there was no need to revisit the 50% ceiling reservation cap prescribed by the SC in its 1992 judgment in Indra Sawhney v. Union of India. Neither the Gaikwad Commission report nor the judgment of the Bombay High Court has made out an extraordinary situation, the bench further said.
SC was hearing petitions against 2019 Bombay HC order
The bench was hearing petitions challenging the June 27, 2019 order of the Bombay High Court. The HC order had upheld the constitutional validity of the 2018 Act. This order has now been set aside by the SC and Sections 2(j), 4(1)(a), and 4(1)(b) of the Act have been struck down. A challenge to the 102nd constitutional amendment—which inserted Article 342A—was dismissed.
What was the view of the bench on Article 342A?
Article 342A calls for the identification of communities in states as SEBC by the President in consultation with the state's Governor. Justices Bhushan and Nazeer said that with Article 342A, the Parliament does not intend to strip states of the power to classify any community as SEBC. However, Justices Rao, Bhat, and Gupta said the President alone is empowered to identify SEBC.
Admissions, appointments till interim SC order to remain unaffected
Admissions to post-graduate courses already held up till the interim order of the Supreme Court on September 9, 2020, will not be affected by the judgment, the court said. Those admitted to post-graduate courses till then will be allowed to continue. Appointments in public services in favor of the Maratha community after the HC order till September 9, 2020, are saved, the court added.