New Delhi: A three-judge bench of the Supreme Court on Wednesday stayed the implementation of the Maharashtra State Reservation for Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC) Act 2018, and referred the issue to a bench of five judges or more for the final adjudication.
The Act provides reservation in education and employment to the Maratha community.
Justices L. Nageswara Rao, Hemant Gupta and S. Ravindra Bhat held that no appointments and admissions based on the Maratha quota will be made for 2020-21, however, the postgraduate admissions taken place already will not be altered.
The issue of Maratha reservation will be placed before Chief Justice S.A. Bobde, who will constitute a larger bench to hear and decide the matter.
The parties involved in the matter had contended before the bench to refer it to an 11-judge bench, to see whether there could be a breach in the the 50 per cent cap on reservation.
The petitioners challenged the Bombay High Court judgement passed in June 2019. They contended that the Act, which provides for 12 per cent and 13 per cent quota to Maratha community in education and jobs, violates the principle laid in the 9-judge bench judgement of the apex court 1992, which capped the reservation at 50 per cent.
The High Court had upheld the Maratha quota, where it ruled that reservation should be 12 per cent in jobs and 13 per cent in education.
The counsel seeking reference to a larger bench contended before the bench that the 50 per cent ceiling was breached in many states, as a result of the 103rd constitutional amendment providing EWS reservation.
The counsel contended that challenge to the EWS reservation has already been referred to a Constitution Bench, therefore the same process should be followed in dealing with this issue.
The counsel, who opposed the reference to a larger bench, contended before the bench the case should be heard on merits, and if, during the hearing the bench thinks reference is required then it should be done.