The Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled as unconstitutional a Maharashtra law from 2018 that granted Marathas reservation in educational institutions and government jobs above the limit of 50 per cent reservations.
"The Court held that there were no exceptional circumstances justifying the grant of reservation to Marathas in excess of 50% ceiling limit as a socially and economically backward class," Live Law reported.
The Supreme Court had been conducting hearings into pleas against the Maharashtra State Reservation for Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC) Act, 2018. The pleas were heard by a bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan, L. Nageswara Rao, S. Abdul Nazeer, Hemant Gupta and S. Ravindra Bhat.
The Supreme Court delivered its verdict in response to a number of petitions that challenged a Bombay High Court verdict, which had upheld the grant of reservation to Marathas in admissions and government jobs.
The lengthy hearing on the issue also saw submissions being made on whether the landmark 1992 Indra Sawhney verdict (called the Mandal judgement), which put a cap of 50 per cent on reservations, required re-consideration by a larger bench. The Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that the Indra Sawhney verdict was 'good law' and need not be referred to a larger bench. The Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday "Exceeding ceiling limit of 50 percent laid down by Indra Sawhney is violative of Articles 14 and 15 [of Constitution]," Bar and Bench reported.
The constitution bench had commenced hearing arguments in the matter on March 15.
The Bombay High Court, while upholding the law in June 2019, had held that 16 per cent reservation was not justifiable and the quota should not exceed 12 per cent in employment and 13 per cent in admissions.
The Centre had argued in the top court that Maharashtra had 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 (SEBC).