A 3-judge Bench of the Supreme Court has decided to examine on August 25 whether the constitutional validity of the Maratha reservation be referred to a Constitution Bench and deferred the hearing in the matter to September 1.
But before that, the Maharashtra Government gave an assurance that it will not hold any recruitment under the Maratha quota till September 15 in view of the prevailing Covid-19 pandemic. The court, in turn gave the MVA government a major relief by refusing to give even an interim stay on the 12% quota in the post graduate medical courses and the admission process.
The Bench of Justices L.Nageswara Rao, Hemant Gupta and S. Ravindra Bhat, which had decided in the last hearing on July 16 to hold a day-to-day hearing in the matter from this Monday and finish it in three days while refusing to stay the reservation, agreed to postpone it on the strength of the statement made in the court by the state government.
A bunch of 11 petitions are pending before the Apex Court, challenging the constitutional validity of the law enacted in November 2018 in Maharashtra, seeking to grant 16% reservation to the Marathas in state government employment and higher education institutions. The petitioners have challenged the Bombay High Court order upholding the ‘Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC) Act, 2018,’ in June last year.
Even while validating the Act, the Bombay High court had cut down the reservation to 12% in employment and 13% in admissions in higher education, holding that the 16% reservation under the law was not justifiable.
On behalf of the state government, Mukul Rohatgi, who is the former Attorney General, submitted that because of the Covid-19 crisis the government was not conducting any recruitment. Rohatgi referred to the state government’s notification issued on May 4 which has clearly said there will not be any fresh recruitment due to the pandemic.
The court will now hold a special hearing on August 25 on the applications moved by the state government and the respondent Vinod Patil, who is the Maratha Kranti Morcha Coordinator, for transferring the case to the Constitution Bench.
The apex court held the hearing online. However, the state government brought to the Supreme Court’s notice that it faces a lot of difficulties in making submissions online. The state government counsel Paramjit Singh Patvalia prayed for a physical hearing. He was supported by Rohatgi.