Maratha Reservation: SC doesn’t modify stay on quota, proposes day-to-day hearing in Jan

by pranjalipargaonkar
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New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday refrained from modifying the stay order in implementing reservation for Marathas in job and education in Maharashtra.The Supreme Court on Wednesday refrained from modifying the stay order in implementing reservation for Marathas in job and education in Maharashtra.

A five-judge Constitution bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan and comprising Justices L. Nageswara Rao, S. Abdul Nazeer, Hemant Gupta and S. Ravindra Bhat scheduled the hearing of a batch of matter from January 25 onwards.

“We are of the view that looking into the issues raised in this appeal and the consequences to the following, it is necessary that final hearing of this appeal be completed as early as possible. One of the issues before this Constitution Bench being interpretation of Constitution (One Hundred and Second Amendment) Act, 2018”, said the top court.

The bench also issued notice to Attorney General K.K. Venugopal, noting that the matter involves interpretation of the 102nd Constitution Amendment Act connected to grant of constitutional status to the National Commission for Backward Classes.

“Since the court is closing for winter vacation and after reopening, the first two weeks are miscellaneous weeks, list this appeal along with other connected appeals for hearing on January 25, 2021. We make it clear that hearing in these appeals shall be on a day-to-day basis,” it said.

Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, representing the Maharashtra government, submitted before the bench to modify its order passed on September 9, to allow reservation in education and jobs. Citing the Justice Gaikwad Commission, he said that a 16 per cent quota was allowed in 2018 after the Assembly approved the commission’s report.

This commission was set up to find out if Marathas constituted a separate class, and had said Marathas constituted 30 per cent of the population.Rohatgi insisted during the hearing the Constitution bench could decide on this interim order.

He submitted when the stay order was passed by the top court, the government had completed recruitment process for 2,185 people, but due to Covid-19 pandemic, the letter of appointment was not issued.Senior advocate Kapil Sibal submitted that several states have breached 50 per cent limit for reservations.

Rohatgi submitted that Indra Sawhney’s judgement by a nine-judge bench, capping reservation at 50 percent, cannot remain cast in stone forever and cited reservation in Tamil Nadu, which is 69 percent.

He added that if seats were to be increased to adjust general category without disturbing the quota, then measures could be considered.The top court said that a final hearing is required for the application filed by the state to vacate the stay on reservation. “Wait for some more time. Let us see if the Act survives,” the bench said.

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