The Bombay High Court on Thursday upheld reservation for Marathas in the State but quashed the 16% quota by calling it “not justifiable”. The court said it should not exceed 12% for education and 13% for jobs as recommended by the Maharashtra State Backward Class Commission (MSBCC).
A Division Bench of Justices Ranjit More and Bharati Dangre said, “We hold and declare that the State possesses the legislative competence to enact the Maharashtra State Reservation for Seats for Admission in Educational Institutions in the State and for appointments in the public services and posts under the State (for Socially and Educationally Backward Classes) SEBC Act, 2018, and the State’s legislative competence is not in any way affected by the Constitution.”
Welcoming the verdict, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said in the Assembly, “The court has upheld the extraordinary and exceptional circumstances mentioned in the report to provide quota to Marathas, due to which the reservation quantum in the State has crossed 50%.”
In the 487-page judgment, the Bench noted, “We hold and declare that the report of the Gaikwad Commission has set out the ‘exceptional circumstances and extra-ordinary situations’ justifying crossing of the limit of 50% reservation as set out in the Indra Sawhney case (Supreme Court).”
The court recorded, “The 50% limit of reservation can be crossed subject to availability of quantifiable and contemporaneous data reflecting backwardness, inadequacy of representation and without affecting the efficiency in administration.”
The judgment said the classification of the Maratha class into “Socially and Educationally Backward Class” was justified.
The court held that the classification “complies with the twin test of reasonable classification permissible under Article 14 (equality before the law) of the Constitution of India, namely, intelligible differentia and rational nexus to the object sought to be achieved.”
It stated, “We, however, hold that the quantum of reservation set out by the Maharashtra State Reservation for seats for admission in educational institutions in the State and for appointments in the public services and posts under the State for SEBC as 16% is not justifiable and we quash and set aside the quantum of reservation under the said provisions over and above 12% and 13% respectively as recommended by the Commission.”
Senior counsel Anil Sakhare appearing for the State told The Hindu , “we will definitely go in appeal to the Supreme Court on the limited point of 12% for education and 13% for jobs and will bring it back to 16%.”
Advocate Gunratan Sadavarte, opposing the verdict, also said, “We will appeal in the Supreme Court as the reservation is against the spirit of the Constitution and breaks the 50% mandate of reservation in the State. It is reverse discrimination against general category.”