The Supreme Court on Wednesday revoked the Maharashtra law framed by the state government in 2018 which provided reservation to the Maratha community in government jobs and educational institutions. The court says that the reservation exceeds the 50 per cent ceiling limit under the socially and economically backward class.
This decision was collectively taken by the five. Judge bench led by Justice Ashok Bhushan. They think that the quota goes against Article 14(Right to Equality) and Article 21(due process of law). Furthermore, the court says that the state did not justify the reasons for giving reservation to the Maratha community.
The court revisited the 1992 Indira Sawhney case(also known as the Mandal Commission) in which a bench of nine judges passed the judgement where 50 per cent was set as the limit; there will be a certain amount of exemption if the community is marginalised or comes from a remote area.
However, the Centre says that the state has the right to grant reservation and the decision made is constitutional, according to SC. Even though the Centre has the power to decide the community coming under socially and educationally backward class(SEBCs), the state can still make its separate list. This power has been granted to the state under the 102nd constitution amendment.
The 102nd constitution amendment act 2018 has Article 338B where it handles the structure and power of the National Commission for Backward Class (NCBC) and Article 342A which gives the President the power to inform a particular caste or community as SEBCs.
Maharashtra is not the only state to provide reservation, the Centre points out that six states like Karnataka, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and Jharkhand also do the same. However, Supreme Court has asked the other states to increase the reservation gap as well.
Last year on September 9th, the court had put a stay on this matter and referred it to the large bench. During the hearing, the court gave the assurance that the judgement will not affect the current postgraduate admission process in the medical stream.
Under the governance of Devendra Fadnavis in Maharashtra, the Maharashtra State Reservation for Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC) Act was passed in November 2019. The act provides 16 per cent reservation in jobs and admission in the various educational institutes for Maratha people.
The Bombay High Court questioned the validity of the act saying that the reservation of 16 per cent is not viable. The High Court suggested that there should be a reduction in the quota to 12-13 per cent according to the recommendation by the State Backwards Class Commission.