Maratha quota: Supreme Court stays implementation of 2018 Maharashtra law granting reservation in jobs, education

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday stayed the implementation of the 2018 Maharashtra law granting reservation to Marathas in education and jobs but made it clear that the status of those who have availed of the benefits will not be disturbed.

A three-judge bench headed by Justice L N Rao referred to a larger constitution bench, to be set up by Chief Justice of India S A Bobde, the batch of pleas challenging the validity of the law granting reservation to Marathas in education and jobs.

The apex court said that status of those who have already taken benefits of the 2018 law shall not be disturbed. The Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC) Act, 2018 was enacted to grant reservation to people of the Maratha community in Maharashtra in jobs and admissions.

The Bombay High Court, while upholding the law in June last year, had held that 16 percent reservation was not justifiable and said that the quota should not exceed 12 percent in employment and 13 percent in admissions.

The apex court passed the order on a batch of pleas challenging the high court order and the 2018 law.

On July 27, the Maharashtra government had assured the top court that it would not proceed with the recruitment process to fill up the vacancies on the basis of 12 percent Maratha reservation till September 15, except for departments, Public Health and Medical Education and Research.

Advocates Amit Anand Tiwari and Vivek Singh, appearing for one of the petitioners, had earlier told the apex court that the last date for admission to PG medical courses should be deferred.

The high court, in its June 27 last year order, had said that 50 percent cap on total reservations imposed by the Supreme Court could be exceeded in exceptional circumstances.

It had also accepted the Maharashtra government’s argument that the Maratha community was socially and educationally backward and it was duty-bound to take steps for its progress.

The high court had said though the reservation was valid, its quantum — 16 percent — was not justifiable and it should be reduced to 12 percent and 13 percent, as recommended by the State Backward Classes Commission.

One of the pleas filed in the apex court had claimed that the SEBC Act breached the 50 percent ceiling on reservation fixed by the top court in its landmark judgment in the Indira Sahwney case, also known as the ‘Mandal verdict’.

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.

On November 30, 2018, the Maharashtra legislature had passed a bill granting 16-per cent reservation to Marathas.

The report submitted by the State Backward Classes Commission was based on quantifiable and contemporaneous data and was correct in classifying the Maratha community as socially and educationally backward, the high court had said in its verdict.