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Why the Maratha reservation did not survive in the Supreme Court? Why is there a demand for handing over the case to 11 judges’ bench?

The Supreme Court on Wednesday submitted petitions challenging the Maharashtra State Reservation for Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC) Act to a larger bench. Under this law, Maratha society in Maharashtra was given reservation in education and employment. Also, the court has also imposed an interim stay on the law to provide reservation in jobs and educational institutions to Maratha society. Now the matter will go to Chief Justice of India SA Bobde and they can form a large constitutional bench.

What is the issue of Maratha reservation in Maharashtra?

  • In Maharashtra, Marathas have been demanding reservation for a decade. In 2018, the state government enacted law and gave 16% reservation in jobs and education to Maratha society.
  • In June 2019, the Bombay High Court reduced reservation to 12% in education and 13% in jobs, reducing it. The High Court said that as an exception the limit of 50% reservation prescribed by the Supreme Court in the state can be exceeded.
  • When this case went to the Supreme Court, a bench of three judges put a stay on it, citing the Indira Sahni case or the Mandal Commission case. Also said that there is a need to make a big bench in this case.

What is Indira Sawhney case, which determines the quota?

  • In 1991, the Congress government led by PV Narasimha Rao issued an order granting 10% reservation for the general category on economic grounds. Indira Sawhney challenged him on this.
  • In this case, the bench of nine judges had said that the number of reserved seats, places should not exceed 50% of the total available seats. The Constitution does not provide reservation on economic grounds.
  • Since then it became law. Gujjars in Rajasthan, Jats in Haryana, Marathas in Maharashtra, Patels in Gujarat are obstructed by the Supreme Court’s decision whenever they ask for a reservation.

 Reservation increase by more than 50%?

  • When the hearing on the Maratha reservation issue was going on, Mukul Rohatgi, Kapil Sibal and other lawyers argued that since 1992, things have changed a lot. In such a situation, states should be empowered to decide this.
  • It was argued that the Constitution was amended when the Narendra Modi government gave 10% reservation on economic grounds in 2019. This did not hamper the Indira Sawhney case verdict. This has led to a total reservation limit of over 50% in 28 states. In such a situation, the judgment pronounced in the Indira Sawhney case should be reviewed.
  • Since, in the Indira Sawhney case, a bench of 9 judges ruled. If that decision is to be overturned or reviewed, the new bench should have more than nine judges. For this reason, there is a demand for a constitutional bench of 11 judges.

Does no state have more than 50% reservation?

It’s not like this. The Center amended the Constitution and gave reservation on economic grounds. It had already given 69% reservation in government jobs and higher education in Tamil Nadu. When the matter went to the Supreme Court, Tamil Nadu had said that 87% of the population of the state is from backward sections.
Jats, as well as nine other communities, were given 10% reservation in the Haryana Legislative Assembly. This brought the total reservation in the state to 67%. Maharashtra was third in the list with 65% till the Supreme Court cancelled Maratha reservation.
Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan have 62, 55 and 54 per cent reservations. In this way, more than 50 per cent reservation in seven states was already in force before giving 10% reservation on an economic basis. At the same time, 30 to 50% reservation was applicable in 10 states.

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