GG News Bureau
New Delhi, 5th May. The Supreme Court has quashed the state government’s decision to grant 16 per cent reservation for Marathas in Maharashtra. At the same time, the Supreme Court also said that there is no need to reconsider the Indira Sahni case. A five-member constitution bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan said that giving 16 per cent reservation to the Maratha community exceeds the maximum reservation limit (50 per cent), hence it is unconstitutional.
Apart from Justice Ashok Bhushan, the five-member constitutional bench also comprises Justice L Nageswara Rao, Justice S Abdul Nazir, Justice Hemant Gupta and Justice S Ravindra Bhat. The bench has stated that the violation of the 50 per cent reservation limit is against the fundamental right to equality. In fact, the Supreme Court had on March 26 reserved its decision on the petitions challenging the Maratha reservation.
The Supreme Court has said in its judgment that neither the Gaikwad Commission nor the High Court had any substantive basis for crossing the 50 per cent reservation limit for Marathas. Therefore, we do not think that any such unexpected situation had arisen that the reservation limit of 50 per cent could be crossed.
The Supreme Court has said that the people of Maratha community cannot be declared as educationally and socially backward, so it is not right to bring them in the field of reservation. Earlier, the Bombay High Court upheld the state government’s decision to provide reservation to Maratha community in Maharashtra’s educational institutions and government jobs. It is known that the decision of the government to give reservation to the people of Maratha community was challenged by many people and organizations.
The petitioners questioned the validity of the High Court’s order, asking whether the High Court was not bound by the decision of the nine-judge bench of the Supreme Court (Mandal Commission case), which had prescribed 50 per cent reservation. The petitioners said that due to Maratha reservation, the reservation has reached 73%, in such a situation, the opportunities for the general class people have become extremely less.
In 2018, the Maharashtra government gave Maratha class 16% reservation in government jobs and higher education. In the Bombay High Court, this reservation was challenged on 2 main grounds. First- there is no proper basis behind it. It is given only for political gain. Secondly, it violates the Supreme Court’s Indira Sahni vs Government of India decision in 1992 to keep the total reservation up to 50%, but in June 2019, the High Court ruled in favor of this reservation. The court held that in exceptional circumstances a class can be given reservation. However, reservation was reduced to 13% in jobs and 12% in higher education.
It is worth noting that the Central Government had justified the decision of the state government to give reservation to the people of Maratha community in the Supreme Court. The Center said that the Maharashtra government has the legislative authority to give reservation to the people of the Maratha community and the decision taken by it is constitutional.