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Breaking: Bombay High Court upholds Maratha Reservation in Education, jobs
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Breaking: Bombay High Court upholds Maratha Reservation in Education, jobs

Bar & Bench

Omkar Gokhale

The Bombay High Court today upheld the reservation granted to Maratha community in admission to educational institutions and appointments to posts in public services.

A Bench of Justices Ranjit More and Bharti Dangre held that Maharashtra State Reservation (of Seats for Admission in Educational Institutions in the State and for Appointments to the Posts in the Public Services under the State) for Socially and Educationally Backward Category (SEBC) Act, 2018 (SEBC Act) is constitutional.

However, instead of the 16 percent reservation proposed by the State government, the Court has directed that the State should cap the reservation at 13 percent for jobs and 12 percent for admission to educational institutions as per the recommendation of the State Commission for Backward Classes.

Justices Ranjit More and Bharti Dangre
Justices Ranjit More and Bharti Dangre

The SEBC Act was enacted pursuant to the recommendations of the State Commission for Backward Classes constituted under the Maharashtra State Backward Classes Commission Act, 2005 (2005 act). This commission was headed by retired judge, Justice MG Gaikwad.

Various petitioners had challenged the SEBC Act and the Gaikwad Commission report.

It was their case that the reservation of 16 percent afforded to Marathas went against the ceiling limit of 50 percent prescribed by the Supreme Court judgment of Indra Sawhney v. Union of India.

The petitioners had contended that Supreme Court judgments mandate periodic revision of lists every ten years to exclude from such lists those classes which have ceased to be backward classes or for including in such lists new backward classes. The said exercise was not done.

It was argued that the State Government has passed the SEBC Act on the basis of unquantified data and without revising the list in the light of the provisions of the existing list of backward classes.

The Gaikwad Commission report was also called into question for failing to adhere to the mandate of Indra Sawhney judgment and the Mandal Commission report.

Some of the petitioners had also contended that with the insertion of Articles 342A and 366(26) in the Constitution by way of Constitution (One Hundred and Second) Amendment Act, 2018, the power to identify and specify the socially and educationally backward classes came to be vested solely with the President and the Parliament. The 2005 Act, therefore, stood repealed by implication as it lost its existence as a result of the Constitution (One Hundred and Second Amendment) Act, 2018, the petitioners had stated.

The High Court today upheld the Gaikwad Commission report and also ruled that the State government’s competence to enact the law is unaffected by the Constitution (One Hundred and Second) Amendment Act, 2018.