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No Extraordinary Situation Shown To Provide Reservations To Marathas By Relaxing 50% Ceiling Limit, Says SC [Read Judgment]

Ashok Kini
10 Sep 2020 12:40 PM GMT
No Extraordinary Situation Shown To Provide Reservations To Marathas By Relaxing 50% Ceiling Limit, Says SC [Read Judgment]
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Maratha community which comprises of 30 per cent of the population in the State of Maharashtra cannot be compared to marginalized sections of the society living in far flung and remote areas, the Supreme Court bench observed while referring the Maratha quota case to larger bench.

The bench comprising of Justices L. Nageswara Rao, Hemant Gupta and S. Ravindra Bhat observed that the relaxation of the strict rule of 50 per cent can be made in certain extraordinary situations.

Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC) Act, 2018, provides for 12% and 13% quota to the Maratha community in education and jobs respectively, violates the principles laid in the case of Indira Sawhney v. Union of India (1992) as per which the Apex Court capped the reservation limit at 50%. The Bombay High Court, while upholding the Maratha quota, held that 16% reservation is not justifiable and ruled that reservation should not exceed 12% in employment and 13% in education as recommended by Backward Commission. The above observations were made by the Apex Court bench while referring the cases to larger bench as the interpretation of the provisions inserted by the Constitution (102nd Amendment) Act, 2018 is involved. 

The Court directed that the admissions to educational institutions for the academic year 2020-21 shall be made without reference to the reservations provided in the Act and that the Admissions made to Post Graduate Medical Courses shall not be altered. Appointments to public services and posts under the Government shall be made without implementing the reservation as provided in the Act, the bench added.

The Court said that the question relating to the extent of reservation has already been decided in Indra Sawhney case, it cannot be termed as a  substantial question of law as to the interpretation of the Constitution.

State has failed to make out a special case for providing reservation in excess of 50 per cent

The Court said that social, educational and economic backwardness of a community, existence of quantifiable data relating to inadequacy of representation of the community in public services and deprivation of the benefits flowing from reservations to the community are not exceptional circumstances for providing reservations in excess of 50 per cent.

Referring to Indra Sawhney judgment, the bench observed thus:

People living in far flung and remote areas not being in the mainstream of national life should be treated in a different way. In view of the conditions peculiar to them they are entitled to be given relaxation. It was made clear that extreme caution has to be exercised and a special case made out for relaxation of the rule of 50 per cent.

We are of the prima facie opinion that the State of Maharashtra has not shown any extraordinary situation for providing reservations to Marathas in excess of 50 per cent. Maratha community which comprises of 30 per cent of the population in the State of Maharashtra cannot be compared to marginalized sections of the society living in far flung and remote areas. The State has failed to make out a special case for providing reservation in excess of 50 per cent. Neither has any caution been exercised by the State in doing so.

Extraordinary and exceptional factors

The Court prima facie observed that the High Court committed an error in treating the circumstances cited by the state as extraordinary, warranting relaxation of the strict rule of 50 per cent. It said:

The factors termed as extraordinary and exceptional, justifying reservations in excess of 50 per  cent are those required for the purpose of providing reservations. The social, educational and economic backwardness of a community, existence of quantifiable data relating to inadequacy of representation of the community in public services and deprivation of the benefits flowing from reservations to the community are not exceptional circumstances for providing reservations in excess of 50 per cent.  

It was contended before the bench that once the matter is referred to a larger Bench, no interim orders can be passed by the referring court and it should be left open to the larger Bench to consider any interim relief. The Court, disagreeing with the said argument, observed that there is no absolute rule to restrain interim orders being passed when an enactment is ex facie un-constitutional or contrary to the law laid down by the Supreme Court. The bench said:

If the Court is convinced that the statute is ex-facie un-constitutional and the factors like balance of convenience, irreparable injury and Public Interest are in favour of passing an interim order, the Court can grant interim relief. There is always a presumption in favour of the constitutional validity of a legislation. Unless the provision is manifestly unjust or glaringly un-constitutional, the courts do show judicial restraint in staying the applicability of the same19. It is evident from a perusal of the above judgment that normally an interim order is not passed to stultify statutory provisions. However, there is no absolute rule to restrain interim orders being passed when an enactment is ex facie un-constitutional or contrary to the law laid down by this Court.



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