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SC refuses to stay Bombay HC order on Maratha reservation, says there won’t be ‘retrospective effect’ of quota

A Division Bench of Justices Ranjit More and Bharti Dangre of the Bombay High court on June 27 had upheld the validity of the SEBC Act.

The Supreme Court on Friday refused to stay the Bombay High court judgement passed on June 27 upholding the validity of reservations granted to the Maratha community by the state government. The reservations have been granted under the socially and educationally backward class category (SEBC) in government jobs and educational institutions.

However, the apex court said that the quota created as per Maharashtra SEBC Act passed last November cannot be given retrospective application with effect from 2014.

The bench led by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi was hearing a plea by a group of social workers, academics and representatives of the Muslim community who have appealed against a Bombay High Court decision upholding a “one-person or one-community” Maharashtra legislation providing reservation to the Maratha community in education and public employment.

The petitioners, led by Mohammad Sayeed Noori Shafi Ahmed, asserted that the Maharashtra legislation is against the very tenets of equality enshrined as a fundamental right in the Constitution.

Advocates Vipin Nair and Madhavi Ayyappan representing the group of social workers, academics and representatives of the Muslim community who have appealed against a Bombay High Court decision, contended that the high court decision was seriously erroneous and based on incomplete data.

A Division Bench of Justices Ranjit More and Bharti Dangre of the Bombay High court on June 27 had upheld the validity of the SEBC Act which was enacted on the recommendations of the State Commission for Backward Classes headed by retired judge Justice MG Gaikwad. The commission was constituted under the Maharashtra State Backward Classes Commission Act, 2005.

The Act was passed by the State Legislative Assembly on 29th November 2018 granting 16% reservation to Marathas.

Several petitions were filed against the SEBC Act and the Gaikwad Commission report on the ground that the 16% reservation granted to Marathas violated the 50 % cap prescribed by the Supreme Court in the landmark case of Indira Sawhney v Union of India.

The Bombay High court had observed that the 50% ceiling could be exceeded under exceptional and extraordinary circumstances and the reservation was based on justifiable data submitted by Gaikwad Commission. However, the court has asked the state to cap the reservations at 12% for jobs and 13% at educational institutions.

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