Supreme Court of India
Supreme Court of India
File Photo

A Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court will start hearing pleas on the Maratha reservation from Monday.

In an order passed on February 5, the Bench had decided to start the hearing on March 8, and finish it on March 18, after hearing the Attorney General K K Venugopal on the last day. Other members of the Bench are Justices L Nageswara Rao, Abdul Nazeer, Hemant Gupta and S Ravindra Bhat.

The case stems from the petitions by Jaishri Laxmanrao Patil of Mumbai and others, challenging the Bombay High Court decision to lower the percentage of reservation granted to the Maratha community in government jobs and higher education.

The senior counsels appearing in the case include former Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi on behalf of the Maharashtra Government, Kapil Sibal, Abhishek Manu Singhvi and P S Patwalia.

Though the Bench had decided on February 5, to hear the case in a hybrid manner (both physical and video conferencing), the hearing is fixed on Monday only through video conferencing. The case is listed for directions.

While upholding the state law in June 2019, the Bombay High Court had held 16 per cent reservation as unjustifiable and reduced it not to exceed 13 per cent in higher education and 12 per cent in employment, as recommended by the State Backward Classes Commission. The 102nd amendment to the Constitution stipulates that the, reservation can be granted only if a particular community is named in the list prepared by the President.

The High Court had held that the 50% cap on the total reservation as imposed by the Supreme Court can be exceeded in exceptional case, accepting the state government's stand that the Maratha community was socially and educationally backwards and it was duty-bound to take steps for its progress.

In July last year, the state government had committed to the court that it would not proceed with the recruitment process to fill up the vacancies on the basis of 12 per cent Maratha reservation till September 15, except for departments, Public Health and Medical Education and Research.

The Supreme Court on September 9, last year, while referring to a larger bench the batch of pleas challenging the validity of the law, had stayed the implementation of the legislation but made it clear that status of those who have availed of the benefits would not be disturbed.

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Free Press Journal