Maratha Reservation: Supreme Court to hear appeals against Bombay HC verdict on Friday

Maratha Reservation: Supreme Court to hear appeals against Bombay HC verdict on Friday

Murali Krishnan

The Supreme Court will hear on Friday this week, appeals against the judgment of the Bombay High Court which had upheld the reservation in education and jobs granted by the State of Maharashtra to the Maratha community.

The matter was mentioned today before the Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi who agreed to list it on Friday.

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 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 Sawhney v. 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.

The legislative competence of the State to enact such a law was also challenged on the ground that the interim order of a Division Bench of the High Court passed in July 2014, staying the implementation of the ESBC Act 2014, was still in effect.

Moreover, it was contended that the Act would be in violation of Article 14 of the Constitution, as it involved creating a classification that was not legally tenable.

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