The Supreme Court on Wednesday quashed 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
The top court made it clear in its judgment that people from the Maratha community cannot be declared as educationally and socially backward community to bring them within the reserved category.
A five-judge bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, L Nageswara Rao, S Abdul Nazeer, Hemant Gupta and S Ravindra Bhat also refused to refer the 1992 Mandal judgment, setting a 50 per cent cap on reservation, to a larger bench for reconsideration.
“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 ceiling limit of 50 percent clearly violates Articles 14 and 15 of the Constitution, the Court added.
The Court also ruled that the judgment in Indra Sawhney v. Union of India need not be referred to 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 approved by at least four Constitution Benches of this Court. We also follow and reiterate the proposition laid down in Indra Sawhney in paragraph 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 so as to exceed the ceiling of 50 percent”.
“Conclusions of the commission are unsustainable. There is no case of extraordinary situation for exceeding the ceiling limit of 50 percent for grant of reservation to Marathas over and above the 50 percent,” the Court emphasised.
The judgment came on a batch of pleas challenging the Bombay High Court verdict which had upheld the grant of reservation to Marathas in admissions and government jobs in the state. On March 26, the top court had reserved its verdict on the batch of pleas. The high court, while upholding the law in June 2019, had held that 16 per cent reservation was not justifiable and the quota should not exceed 12 per cent in employment and 13 per cent in admissions.