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Maratha reservation case: SC schedules 3 day-to-day hearings

The Supreme Court today (July 15) said that it will hear on a day-to-day basis petitions challenging the constitutional validity of a Maratha reservation in education and jobs by the Maharashtra government. The hearings start on July 27.

The bench, comprising Justices L Nageswara Rao, Hemant Gupta and S Ravindra Bhatt, has directed all parties to sit together and decide on modalities of the hearing. The bench also said that it will complete the hearing in three days.

The matter pertains to a the Socially and Educationally Backward Classes Act 2018, introduced by the Maharashtra Government, that grants a 12 per cent quota reservation for the Maratha community in education and 13 per cent quota in appointment to public service jobs in the state.

The act was introduced with the purpose of extending reservation benefits to the Maratha community. The Act originally provided 16 percent reservation to Marathas in public service jobs and education in the state. Later it was challenged before the Bombay High Court which upheld the validity of the law, but reduced it to 12 per cent in admissions and 13 per cent in jobs. Thereafter, the state government amended the act accordingly.

A batch of 15 petitions have challenged the law on the ground that it breaches the 50 per cent reservation threshold prescribed in the landmark judgment rendered by the Supreme Court in Indra Sawhney vs Union Of India & Ors, in 1992.

That ruling observed that the constitution recognized social and educational backwardness, but not economic backwardness. The court upheld separate reservation for OBC in central government jobs, but excluded these to the “creamy layer” (the forward section of a backward class, above a certain income). At no point should the reservation exceed 50 percent, the court had ruled.

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