Supreme Court Reserves Verdict In Maratha Reservation Case
Image used for representational purpose. Demonstrators with saffron flags ride a motorcycle during a silent protest organised by Marathas. (Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg)

Supreme Court Reserves Verdict In Maratha Reservation Case


The Supreme Court on Friday reserved judgment on a batch of petitions challenging the Bombay High Court verdict which had upheld the grant of reservation to Marathas in admissions and government jobs in the state.

A five-judge Constitution bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan concluded hearing of arguments in the matter in which submissions were also advanced on whether the landmark 1992 Indra Sawhney verdict (called the Mandal judgement), which put a cap of 50% on reservations, requires re-consideration by a larger bench.

“KK Venugopal, Attorney General has addressed his arguments in reply to the submissions made in the writ petition... Tushar Mehta, Solicitor General appearing for the Union of India and state of Gujarat adopts the submission of the Attorney General. Hearing completed. Judgment reserved,” said the bench, which also comprised justices L Nageswara Rao, S Abdul Nazeer, Hemant Gupta and S Ravindra Bhat.

The bench had commenced hearing arguments in the matter on March 15.

On March 8, the top court had said that it proposes to consider issues, including whether the judgment in the Indra Sawhney case needs to be referred to or requires re-look by a larger bench in the light of subsequent constitutional amendments, judgments and changed social dynamics of the society.

The high court, while upholding the law in June 2019, had held that 16% reservation was not justifiable and the quota should not exceed 12% in employment and 13% in admissions.

The Centre had argued in the top court that Maharashtra has the legislative competence for granting reservation to Marathas and its decision is Constitutional as the 102nd amendment does not denude a state of the power to declare its list of Socially and Educationally Backward Classes.

The 102nd Constitution amendment Act of 2018 inserted Articles 338B, which deals with the structure, duties and powers of the National Commission for Backward Class, and 342A dealing with power of the President to notify a particular caste as SEBC as also of Parliament to change the list.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, had said that in its view, the SEBC Act 2018 of Maharashtra granting reservation to people of the Maratha community in the state in jobs and admissions is Constitutional.

The Centre is of the view that the Maharashtra SEBC Act is constitutional. We construe Article 342A gives enabling role to Central government to determine the SEBC, Mehta had said, adding that the Centre adopts the submissions of the Attorney General and it should be considered as the view of the Union government.

Also read: Job Reservations For Local Candidates: Will Haryana’s Insular Law Stand?

On March 18, the Attorney General had told the top court that the 102nd amendment to the Constitution does not deprive state legislatures to enact law determining the SEBC and conferring benefits on them.

The apex court had on Sept. 9 last year stayed the implementation of legislation and referred to a larger bench the batch of pleas challenging the validity of law, but made it clear that status of those who have availed of the benefits would not be disturbed.

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