New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday cancelled the Reservation for Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC) Act, 2018 which provided the Maratha community reservation in government jobs and educational institutions, saying it exceeded the 50 per cent cap imposed earlier.
A five-judge bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan, L Nageswara Rao, S Abdul Nazeer, Hemant Gupta, and S Ravindra Bhat, studying the constitutional validity of the 16 per cent reservation brought in by the earlier BJP government in Maharashtra, said the move violated equality.
“The 2018 Act as amended in 2019 granting reservation for Maratha community does not make out any exceptional circumstance to exceed the ceiling limit of 50 per cent reservation,” observed the Court.
The Act exceeds the ceiling limit of 50 per cent which violates Articles 14 and 15 of the Constitution, it added.
“States have no power to add any caste to socially economically backward caste list due to the amendment made by Parliament,” the Top Court observed.
“States can only identify the castes and suggest to the Centre…Only President can add the caste to SEBC list guided by the National Backward Classes Commission.”
It, however, said all admissions made to post-graduate medical courses and appointments already made under the new quota law shall not be disturbed by its ruling today.
Petitioners challenged the Act before the Bombay High Court as being a ‘fraud’ on the Constitution of India, as it proposed to hike the reservation in Maharashtra from 52 per cent to 68 per cent. This, it was contended, was in violation of the Supreme Court’s judgment in Indra Sawhney vs Union of India.
The Bombay High Court had upheld the quota in 2019. The Supreme Court had put the Bombay High Court judgment on hold last year.