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Supreme Court issues notice to all states seeking their response on the 50% ceiling on reservation

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Umamageswari Maruthappan

The Supreme Court has issued notice to all states to submit their responses on the 50% ceiling on reservation and adjourned the matter for next hearing on 15th March 2021.

“In view of the question of seminal importance on Article 342A, states have to be given opportunity to make their submissions,” the Court said.

During the hearing, senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, Counsel for Maharashtra, as well as Attorney General K K Venugopal urged for consideration of every state’s opinion concerning the reservation limit. Consequently, the Bench issued notice to all states.

“All states need to be heard as Article 342A takes away the legislative competence of states to make laws for backward classes under Articles 15 and 16 in education and employment,” Adv. Rohatgi said.

The Five-Judge Bench of Ashok Bhushan, LN Rao, SA Nazeer, Hemant Gupta and S Ravindra Bhat was hearing a petition filed by Jaishri Laxmanrao Patil challenging the Bombay High Court’s order of restricting the reservation limit of the Maratha Community in higher education and  government jobs.

In 2019, the Bombay High Court had ordered the Maharashtra State Government to lower the reservation limit of the Maratha Community in government jobs and higher education from 16% to 12% and 13% respectively.

The High Court also remarked that the 50% limit in reservation of seats can be exceeded in exceptional cases. The 50% ceiling was imposed by a Nine-Judge Constitutional Bench in the Indira Sahwney case (also known as Mandal Commission Case) in 1992.

It is to be noted that Maharashtra is not the only state to breach the reservation limit. Tamil Nadu have 69% of reservation and even Rajasthan and Odisha have more than the mandated limit. Whereas other states like Karnataka, Telangana, and Andhra Pradesh are looking forward to exceed the same.