Maratha Reservation: SC issues notice in challenge to Bombay HC verdict, no stay on judgment (for now)

Maratha Reservation: SC issues notice in challenge to Bombay HC verdict, no stay on judgment (for now)

Murali Krishnan

The Supreme Court today issued notice to State of Maharashtra in the appeals challenging the Bombay High Court judgment which had upheld the reservation for the Maratha community.

A Bench of Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose, however, did not stay the judgment. Notice has been issued on an interim prayer for stay. The same is returnable in two weeks.

The Court, however, made it clear that State of Maharashtra cannot apply the Maratha reservation retrospectively. Thus, the Maharashtra government’s orders applying the reservation retrospectively from 2014 will be subject to the outcome of the case in the Supreme Court.

The order reads:

“We have heard learned counsel for the parties, we make it clear that the action taken pursuant to the order of the High Court shall be subject to the result of the special leave petitions. However, we make it clear that the order of the High Court or the reservation in question shall not have any retrospective effect.”

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

A Bench of Justices Ranjit More and Bharti Dangre of the Bombay High Court 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.

Before the Bombay High Court, the SEBC Act of 2018 was assailed by the petitioners as being a fraud on the Constitution of India,  as it proposed to hike the reservation in Maharashtra from 52 percent to 68 percent. This, it was contended, was in violation of the Supreme Court’s judgment in Indra Sawhneyv. Union of India.

It was also argued that the reservation for the Maratha community would affect the seats in the general pool of candidates and that the reservation was nothing but a desperate attempt by political parties to appease the Maratha vote bank.

Another point of contention was that the SEBC Act was passed based on the recommendations of Justice Gaikwad Commission Report, which the petitioners claim, did not have any empirical data to conclude that the Maratha community is socially and educationally backward.

A number of appeals were filed against this judgment before the Supreme Court last week.

[Read Order]

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