The Supreme Court stated that there will be a day-to-day hearing from July 27 onwards in the plea challenging the Bombay High Court order which upheld the SEBC Act, 2018, that allows for the Maratha community to avail reservation in education and jobs in the State of Maharashtra.
The plea, challenging the Bombay High Court order, 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, violates 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%.
On November 30, 2018, the State of Maharashtra had enacted the Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC) Act, 2018, in order to grant reservation to the Maratha community in respect of jobs and education, so as to appease the agitation that was taking place in the State. Citing violation of the Indira Sawhney judgement, multiple petitions were filed before the Bombay High Court, challenging the constitutionality of the Act.
On June 27, 2019, a Division Bench of the Bombay High Court comprising of Justices Ranjit More and Bharati Dangre upheld the constitutional validity of the Act and directed the State of Maharashtra to reduce the 16% reservation to 12-13%, as per the recommendations of the State Backward Classes Commission. It further noted that as per the Indira Sawhney case, special circumstances would warrant the State Government to exceed the bar of 50%.
In today's hearing, Senior Advocate Shyam Divan submitted to the Bench that the case warranted to be heard in physical courts as lengthy arguments would not be possible to adjudicate via virtual hearings.
"If we are constrained, then give us the earliest possible date. There is tremendous urgency in the matter. We may also need to revisit the concept of interlocutory relief. The percentages have gone up till almost 73%; this has put the careers of post-graduate students at risk."
Advocate Shivaji M. Jadhav also batted for physical hearing on account of the thousands of pages involved in the matter. Senior Advocate Gopal Sankaranarayan also apprised the Court about the issues afflicting hearings on a virtual platform, such as counsels getting dropped from the video conference.
Justice Rao responded, "Do you know when the pandemic will subside and when the physical hearings will start?"
The Judge of the Supreme Court then directed the parties to get together and decide the modalities of the hearing. As it will be heard on a day-to-day basis, the parties have been requested to decide who will argue when, and how much time an individual counsel will take so as to avoid the repetition of arguments.
The matter is now listed on July 27th.