The Supreme Court has dismissed the review petition filed by the Centre in the Maratha reservation case. A five-judge Constitution bench said that the grounds taken in the review petition do not fall within the limited ground on which review petition can be considered, Bar and Bench reported.
The Centre had filed a review petition in the court against its interpretation of the 102nd Constitutional amendment in the case. The court in its May 5 order struck down a Maharashtra law that gave reservations in jobs and education to Marathas under the Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC) category.
"The various grounds taken in the review petition have already been dealt with in the main judgment. We do not find any sufficient ground to entertain this review petition. The review petition is dismissed," the apex court said while rejecting the Centre's review plea.
In its May order, the court had said that no “extraordinary circumstances” were made out in granting separate reservations of Maratha Community by exceeding the 50 per cent ceiling limit of reservation. It said that to change the 50 per cent limit is to have a society which is not founded on equality but based on caste rule and if the reservation goes above 50 per cent limit which is reasonable, it will be a slippery slope, the political pressure, make it hardly to reduce the same.
The previous BJP-Shiv Sena government had in 2018 enacted SEBC (Socially and Educationally Backward Communities) Act of Maharashtra to grant reservation to people of the Maratha community in the state in jobs and admissions. The Bombay High Court, while upholding the law in June 2019, had held that 16 per cent reservation was not justifiable and the quota should not exceed 12 per cent in employment and 13 per cent in admissions.
The court had ruled that after the insertion of Article 342A in the Constitution through the 102nd Amendment, it is the Centre alone that is empowered to identify SEBC and include them in a list to be published under Article 342A (1), specifying SEBCs in relation to each state and union territory.
The states can, through their existing mechanisms, only make suggestions to the President or the Commission under Article 338B for inclusion, exclusion or modification of castes or communities, in the list to be published under Article 342A (1).
“By introduction of Articles 366 (26C) and 342A through the 102nd Constitution of India, the President alone, to the exclusion of all other authorities, is empowered to identify SEBCs and include them in a list to be published under Article 342A (1), which shall be deemed to include SEBCs in relation to each state and union territory for the purposes of the Constitution,” the court had held.
Except with regard to identification of SEBCs, the states’ power to make reservations in favour of particular communities or castes, the quantum of reservations, the nature of benefits and the kind of reservations, and all other matters falling within the ambit of Articles 15 and 16 will, however, remain undisturbed, the court clarified.