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Maratha Reservation Supreme Court Judgment
The Supreme Court on 5th May 2021 struck down the Maharashtra State Reservation for Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC) Act, 2018 which extends reservation to the Maratha community in public education and employment (Jaishri Laxmanrao Patil v. Chief Minister).
The Court said that there were no extraordinary circumstances to grant reservation to the Maratha community over and above the 50 percent ceiling on reservation prescribed by the Supreme Court in its 1992 judgment in Indra Sawhney v. Union of India.
“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 percent reservation,” the Court held.
The Act of 2018 violates the principles of equality and exceeding the ceiling limit of 50 percent clearly violates Articles 14 and 15 of the Constitution, the Court added.
In the process, the Court also ruled that the judgment in Indra Sawhney v. Union of India need not be referred to a larger Bench and the 50 percent ceiling on reservation laid down in Indra Sawhney is good law.
“We do not find any substance in the argument to refer the judgment in Indra Sawhney to a larger Bench. The said judgment has been repeatedly followed by this Court and has received approval by at least four Constitution Benches of this Court. We also follow and reiterate the proposition laid down in Indra Sawhney in paragraphs 809 and 810,” the Court made it clear.
The Court further said that neither the Gaikwad Commission report nor the judgment of the Bombay High Court has made out an extraordinary situation in the case of Marathas to exceed the ceiling of 50 percent.
“Conclusions of the commission are unsustainable. There is no case of the extraordinary situation for exceeding the ceiling limit of 50 percent for grant of reservation to Marathas over and above the 50 percent,” the Court emphasized.
The Maharashtra State Reservation for Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC) Act, which enacted providing for 16 percent reservation for the Maratha community in educational institutions and government employment.
The Act came to be challenged before the Bombay High Court by the petitioners as being a fraud on the Constitution of India, as it proposed to hike the reservation in Maharashtra from 52 percent to 68 percent. This, it was contended, was in violation of the Supreme Court’s judgment in Indra Sawhney v. Union of India.
It was further contended that after the Constitution (102nd Amendment) Act which came into force with effect from August 2018, the State legislature is denuded of its power to declare a particular class to be socially and educationally backward.
Article 342A calls for the identification of communities in the States as socially and educationally backward classes by the President, in consultation with the Governor of the state.
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