NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Wednesday quashed of Maharashtra law to grant reservation for Marathas in jobs and education institutions and also ruled that there was no need to re-examine its 1992 verdict capping quota at 50 per cent.
A five-judge Constitution bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, L Nageswara Rao, S Abdul Nazeer, Hemant Gupta and S Ravindra Bhat were unanimous on unconstitutionality of Maratha law and said that Maratha community cannot be declared as socially and educationally backward community to grant them reservation.
The court also also pointed out that there was no exceptional circumstances and extraordinary situation to justify breach of 50 percent cap in granting reservation to Marathas.
The state government had framed the law on November 30, 2018 granting 16 percent quota for Marathas in government jobs and admission in educational institutions.
While upholding the law, Bombay High Court on June 27 last year directed the government brought it down to 12% for education and 13% for jobs as recommended by a state-appointed backward class commission headed by former HC judge M B Gaikwad.
Challenging the high court’s, the petitioners contended that the HC misread SC judgments to conclude that there is no stringent ceiling limit of 50% reservation as set out in the 1992 Indra Sawhney case.
Allowing the appeal, the apex court quashed the high court order
The main plank of the bunch of petitioners challenging the validity of the Maratha quota is that it took the total reservation way beyond the 50% ceiling on quota put by the SC in its landmark Indra Sawhney judgment in November 1992, while upholding the validity of 27% OBC quota in government jobs, which was later extended to admissions in state-run educational institutions.
The state government, however, said that there was no illegality in giving reservation to Maratha community and pointed out that many states were providing reservation above 50 percent which has not been stayed by SC.
Various states have also supported Maharashtra government and pleaded that SC’s 1992 verdict by nine-judge bench needed to be re-examined and contended that that 50 percent cap imposed by judicial verdict should go and they should be allowed to decide on the quantum of quota required.
The Centre had also come in support of Maratha reservation and told the court that it was a valid law.