On Wednesday, 05 May 2021, a Constitution Bench of the Apex Court struck down the Maratha quota in excess of 50% ceiling limit as unconstitutional. The Court unanimously held that there were no exceptional circumstances that justified the grant of reservation to Marathas in excess of 50% ceiling limit as a Socially and Economically Backward Class.
A 5-Judge Bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan, L. Nageswara Rao, S. Abdul Nazeer, Hemant Gupta and S. Ravindra Bhat had reserved judgment in the case on March 26, 2021, after a consecutive hearing of 10 days. Justices Ashok Bhushan (for himself and Justice Nazeer), Nageswara Rao, Hemant Gupta and Ravindra Bhat delivered judgments in the case.
The Maharashtra SEBC Act 2018, provided 16% reservation for Marathas in jobs and education, after implementation of which, the reservation in Maharashtra became 68%.
The bench held that the Maharashtra SEBC Act 2018, violated the principles of equality by considering Marathas as socially and economically backward class.
It thus, struck down the reservation for Marathas in education and employment. However, the bench clarified that the judgment will not affect the PG Medical Admissions under Maratha quota made till 09.09.2020.
"We have found that no extraordinary circumstances were made out in granting separate reservation of Maratha Community by exceeding the 50% ceiling limit of reservation. The SEBC Act, 2018, violates the principle of equality as enshrined in Article 16. The exceeding of ceiling limit without there being any exceptional circumstances clearly violates Article 14 and 16 of the Constitution which makes the enactment ultra vires. We thus conclude that the Act, 2018 as amended in 2019, granting separate reservation for Maratha community has not made out any exceptional circumstances to exceed the ceiling of 50 percent reservation", the main judgment authored by Justice Ashok Bhushan stated.
The fact and figures obtained by the Gaikwad Commission indicate that the students of the Maratha Community have excelled well in open competition and got admissions in all streams including Engineering, Medical Graduation and Post-Graduation Courses and their percentage is not negligible. After elaborately referring to statistics regarding the representation of Marathas in government jobs, the Court held that Marathas are adequately rep
The bench held that there was no need to revisit the 50% ceiling limit on reservation laid down by the 9-judge bench decision in the Indira Sawhney case. Observing that the Indira Sawhney dictum has been followed in many judgments and has received acceptance, the Court reiterated that position.
The Constitution Bench also dismissed the petitions challenging the 102nd Constitution Amendment, which introduced the National Commission for Backward Classes. The bench rejected the argument that the 102nd Constitution amendment violated the basic structure of the Constitution.