M/s. Dr. Jaishri Laxmanrao Patil Vs. The Chief Minister & Ors.

Case Number: Civil Appeal No. 3123, 3124, 3133, 3134, 3131, 3127, 3126, 3125, 3128, 3130, 3129 of 2020 with Writ Petition (C) No. 915, 504, 914 of 2020

Judges Name: Hon’ble Judges Ashok Bhushan J, L.Nageswara Rao J, Hemant Gupta J and S.Ravindra Bhat J. 

Order dated: 05.05.2021

“Supreme Court Struck down the provisions of Maharashtra’s Socially and Educationally Backward Classes Act, 2018, which grants reservations to the Maratha community.”

Facts of the Case:

  • The above appeals have been filed challenging the common judgment of the High Court dated 27.06.2019 by which judgment several batches of writ petitions have been decided by the High Court. 
  • The state of Maharashtra promulgated an ordinance dated 09.07.2014 providing 16% reservation in education and public employment to the Maratha community and 5% reservation to 52 Muslim Communities. The Bombay High Court issued an interim order staying the ordinance’s implementation. 
  • Then, the state of Maharashtra enacted the Socially and Educationally Backward Classes Act, 2014. This granted 16% reservation to educationally and socially backward classes, among whom the Maratha community was counted. The Bombay High Court stayed the implementation of the Act by the order dated 07.04.2016 due to its semblance to the ordinance.
  • Justice Gaikwad Commission recommended 12% and 13% reservation for Marathas in educational institutions and appointments in public services, respectively. Upon the recommendations of Justice Gaikwad, Maharashtra passed the Socially and Educationally Backward Classes Act, 2018 on 29.11.2018. The Act exceeds the recommended quotas, granting 16% reservation for Marathas in Maharashtra’s state educational institutions and appointments to public service.
  • The constitutional validity of the Socially and Educationally Backward classes Act, 2018 was challenged before the Bombay High Court by several writ petitions. The Bombay High Court by the order dated 27.06.2019 upheld the constitutional validity of the Act by reasoning that State governments have the power to increase reservation beyond the ceiling limit of 50% in extraordinary circumstances justified by quantifiable data. The Bombay High court held that the Act should not prescribe reservations exceeding the Commission’s recommended 12% and 13% in education and public employment respectively.
  • An Appeal was filed before the Supreme Court challenging the Socially and Educationally Backward Classes Act, 2018 passed by the State of  Maharashtra. 

Issues:

  • Whether Maharashtra State Reservation for Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC) Act, 2018 as amended in 2019 granting 12% and 13% reservation for Maratha community in addition to 50% social reservation is covered by exceptional circumstances as contemplated by Constitution Bench in Indra Sawhney’s case?

Supreme Court held:

  • The Supreme Court held that 50% Limit reservations should not be reconsidered. The Gaikwad commission, the Bombay HC judgment or the SEBC Act all fail to lay out an ‘extraordinary situation’ to fall within the exception to this limit. So, the SEBC Act, insofar as it identifies and grants reservations to Marathas, is struck down.
  • The Hon’ble Supreme Court held that the 102nd Constitutional Amendment did take away States’ powers to identify backward classes. Only the President can notify a list that identifies them which Parliament can amend thereafter. States can only make recommendations. However, until that notification is published, which should be done expeditiously, the existing setup would continue. The Amendment also did not violate the basic structure of the Constitution. 
  • The Hon’ble Supreme Court stated that the Maharashtra Act violates the principle of equality as embedded in Article 16 of the Indian Constitution. The exceeding of the reservation limit without there being any extraordinary circumstances violates the Article 14 and article 16 of the Indian Constitution which makes the enactment ultra vires, it added. In view of the above, the Hon’ble Supreme Court disposed of the appeals.
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