The Supreme Court on Friday refused to stay the judgment passed on July 27 by the the Bombay High Court which had upheld the validity of reservation granted to the Maratha community by the state government under the socially and educationally backward class category (SEBC) in government jobs and educational institutions.
However the Court said that the quota created as per Maharashtra SEBC Act passed last November cannot be given retrospective application with effect from 2014. This was when the petitioners brought to the notice of the Court that the Government has passed an order yesterday applying the quota to nearly 70,000 vacancies with effect from 2014.
The reservation will be subject to the outcome of the petitions in SC, added the Court.
The Court has issued notices to the Maharashtra Government in the petitions filed by NGO Youth For Equality and few others challenging the quota.
Though the HC had upheld the Maratha quota, it held that 16% reservation is not justifiable and ruled that reservation should not exceed 12% in employment and 13% in education as recommended by Backward Commission.
The Division Bench of Justies Ranjit More and Bharati Dangre said that the upper limit of 50% for reservation can be exceeded in exceptional circumstances.
The special leave petition filed in SC by the NGO 'Youth For Equality' challenged this verdict by contending that Maratha quota was granted under "political pressure" and in "full defiance" of the constitutional principles of equality and rule of law.
"The high court erred in concluding that the mere fact that other OBCs would have to share their reservation quotas with the Marathas (if the Marathas were simply included in the existing OBC category) constitutes an exceptional circumstance warranting a breach of the 50 per cent ceiling limit set by Indira Sawhney," the plea filed by advocate Pooja Dhar said.
The petition also claimed that the high court overlooked the fact that Marathas occupied 40 per cent of the government jobs available in the open category.
"The high court overlooked the fact that the Gaikwad Commission itself recorded that the Maratha community forms only 19 per cent of the population, which shows that the assumption behind the SEBC Act that Marathas constitute 30 per cent of the population was bad," it said.
"It is evident that the Maharashtra government has made a mockery of the rule of law. It has also used its constitutional powers arbitrarily and purely for political gains," the plea said.
It said the SEBC Act was "unconstitutional" for violating the Bombay High Court's 2015 order without removing its basis, overstepping the constitutional limitations contained in the 102nd amendment to the Constitution and for merely succumbing to political pressure, in complete violation of the constitutional principles of rule of law.
According to the 102nd amendment to the Constitution, reservation can be granted only if a particular community is named in the list prepared by the President.