Maratha Reservation Struck Down: SC | 06 May 2021

Why in News

Recently, the Supreme Court (SC) declared a Maharashtra law which provides reservation benefits to the Maratha community, taking the quota limit in the State in excess of 50%, as unconstitutional.

Key Points

  • Background:
    • 2017: A 11-member commission headed by Retired Justice N G Gaikwad recommended Marathas should be given reservation under Socially and Educationally Backward Class (SEBC).
    • 2018: Maharashtra Assembly passed a Bill proposing 16% reservation for Maratha community.
    • 2018: The Bombay High Court while upholding the reservation pointed out that instead of 16% it should be reduced to 12% in education and 13%in jobs.
    • 2020: The SC stayed its implementation and referred the case to Chief Justice of India for a larger bench.
  • Current Ruling:
    • Violation of Fundamental Rights:
      • A separate reservation for the Maratha community violates Articles 14 (right to equality) and 21 (due process of law).
      • Reservation breaching the 50% limit will create a society based on “caste rule”.
        • The Maratha reservation of 12% and 13% (in education and jobs) had increased the overall reservation ceiling to 64% and 65%, respectively.
        • In the Indira Sawhney judgment 1992, SC had categorically said 50% shall be the rule, only in certain exceptional and extraordinary situations for bringing far-flung and remote areas' population into mainstream said 50% rule can be relaxed.
    • No Further Benefits:
      • Appointments made under the Maratha quota following the Bombay High Court judgment endorsing the State law would hold, but they would get no further benefits.
    • Deprived States of the Power to Identify SEBCs:
      • There will only be a single list of SEBC with respect to each State and Union Territory notified by the President of India, and that States can only make recommendations for inclusion or exclusion, with any subsequent change to be made only by Parliament.
      • The Bench unanimously upheld the constitutional validity of the 102nd Constitution Amendment but differed on the question whether it affected the power of states to identify SEBCs.
    • Direction to NCBC:
      • Asked the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) to expedite the recommendation of SEBCs so that the President can publish the notification containing the list of SEBCs in relation to States and Union Territories expeditiously.

102nd Amendment Act of 2018

  • It introduced Articles 338B and 342A in the Constitution.
  • Article 338B deals with the newly established National Commission for Backward Classes.
  • Article 342A empowers the President to specify the socially and educationally backward communities in a State.
    • It says that it is for the Parliament to include a community in the Central List for socially and backward classes for grant of reservation benefits.