26 March 2021 8:58 AM GMT
After a marathon hearing over a period of 10 days, the Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court on Friday reserved the judgement in a batch of pleas challenging the Maharashtra SEBC Act, 2018, which provides for reservation for Marathas in jobs and education. The 5-Judge Bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan, L. Nageswara Rao, S. Abdul Nazeer, Hemant Gupta and S. Ravindra Bhat heard...
The 5-Judge Bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan, L. Nageswara Rao, S. Abdul Nazeer, Hemant Gupta and S. Ravindra Bhat heard the matter which began on 15th March. In today's hearing, Senior Advocate Siddharth Bhatnagar commenced his submissions by informing the Court that the views of 8 out of 9 Judges in Indra Sawhney on the 50% limit on reservations was very clear, and that even the acceptance of Senior Counsel Mukul Rohatgi's arguments would have no impact on the same as the greatest common measure was on 50% being the binding rule. After Bhatnagar, Advocate RK Deshpande made submissions, and post him, Senior Advocate BH Marlapalle argued that the doctrine of extraordinary circumstances evolved in Indra Sawhney could not be made applicable to a ruling, dominant community. He stated, "Maharashtra has 48 seats in Lok Sabha, of which 9 are reserved. Out of the remaining 39, 20 were from the Maratha community in the 2014 elections. And 21 in 2019. Cabinet of Maharashtra has 42 Ministers, with 21 of them from the Maratha community. They have never been recognized as OBC by any State Government." Marlapalle concluded by submitting that the Maratha community's demands to either be treated as OBC or equivalent to Kunbi had already been considered and rejected by three State Commissions and two National Commissions. Attorney-General KK Venugopal also made his submissions by noting that the issue hinged upon whether the Court interpreted Article 342A as a provision that took away the powers of the State in identification of backward classes for reservation. "Union of India expressly said that 342A was restricted to identifying reservations for the purpose of Central Government institutions. It had said so in its Affidavit filed in a connected matter relating to Tamil Nadu." The AG averred that if the Parliament could override List III topics with the aid of legislation, then it could be deduced that the same could be done by Constitutional amendments. To this, Court observed that someone had argued that if Article 342A was viewed as denuding the State's power, then it would impact the federal structure. The AG submitted, "There is an express provision in the Constitution dealing with 'backward classes' so far as backward classes are concerned. If it is traceable to Article 16(4), it cannot be a subject matter of 'State Public Services'." Referring to the Indra Sawhney judgement, the AG stated that the 9-Judge Bench had expressly identified the source of the power as existing in 16(4) as well as 340. "It is a rather desperate attempt to invalidate a Constitutional amendment. There is not a single State which has passed a law tracing its power to Entry 41 of List II. Can it be said that this amendment makes a change to public services of the State? I submit that it is a far cry." He concluded his submissions by stating that 102nd Amendment could not be unconstitutional. Solicitor-General Tushar Mehta also appeared, submitting that he would adopt the AG's submissions for the Centre as well as State of Gujarat. BACKGROUND The pleas before the Constitution Bench challenges the Bombay High Court judgment passed in June 2019, and submits that the Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC) Act, 2018, which provides for 12% and 13% quota to the Maratha community in education and jobs respectively, violated the principles laid in the case of Indira Sawhney v. Union of India (1992) as per which the Apex Court capped the reservation limit at 50%. The Bombay High Court, while upholding the Maratha quota, held that 16% reservation is not justifiable and ruled that reservation should not exceed 12% in employment and 13% in education as recommended by the State Backward Commission. On September 9, 2020, a three-judge Bench of the Supreme Court referred the cases to a larger Bench to determine the issue whether State Government has the power to declare a class as Socially and Economically Backward after the Constitution (102nd) amendment.
Reports of previous hearings
Maratha Quota Case : Indira Sawhney Decision Delivered After Much Discussion; No Need To Revisit, Datar Argues In Supreme Court
For How Many Generations Reservations Will Continue? Supreme Court Asks In Maratha Quota Case[Day 5]
'Affirmative Action Not Limited To Reservation Only': Supreme Court In Maratha Quota Case Hearing[Day 6]
'We Cannot Take This 16% Reservation Lightly', Says Supreme Court On Maratha Quota[Hearing Day 8]
'All Reservations May Go And Only EWS May Remain; But That's A Matter Of Policy' : Supreme Court In Maratha Quota Case [Day 9]