Maratha quota dispute: Supreme Court to hear pleas on 8th March


Sreya Kanugula

The Supreme Court gave a posting date for the 8th of March to be the day of the final hearing concerning petitions that challenge the verdict given by the Bombay High Court to uphold the reservation given to Maratha community as per the Maharashtra Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC) Act, for jobs and education.

A Constitution bench comprising five judges led by Justice Ashok Bhushan stated that the matter’s final hearing shall be listed to heard on the 8th of March and gave the proposal to finish the entire hearing by the 18th of March.

Stating that since physical hearings on matters could proceed from the month of March, the bench had adjourned to hear the matter of the Maratha reservations validity to the 8th of March. 

Post the matter for March 8. If physical hearing starts by then, then hearing through physical mode, and those who want to appear through video conference can argue through it. We fix March 8, 9 and 10 for hearing on behalf of petitioners. 

Respondents (State) to start arguments on March 12, 15, and 16. On March 17, we will hear intervenors and others. On March 18 the court will hear the Attorney General of India and rejoin the petitioner on the same day. 

We propose to start the hearing on March 8 and complete it by March 18. Parties to give brief submission of their notes on their arguments, which may be filed by the end of this month, the order given by the bench stated.

The court also stated that the case can be argued by the petitioners on the 8th, 9th and 10th of March and the government of Maharashtra would be given 3 days after that to make their argument. 

It had also stated that intervenors on this matter would be given the date 17th of March to make their case while Mr. K K Venugopal, the Attorney General could argue on the 18th of March. 

In the process of informing the court, Sr. Adv. Mukul Rohatgi who had represented the government of Maharashtra had stated in the hearing that several document volumes were being printed at the moment and could take two weeks for their completion. 

He had urged the court to fix the date on the matter in the month of March and indicated that hearings could be heard physically from then.  

A bench of the apex court had restrained the government of Maharashtra in the year of 2019 with an interim order for the law on the quota to be implemented.

The bench consisted of Justices Ashok Bhushan, L Nageswara Rao, S Abdul Nazeer, Hemant Gupta and Ravindra Bhat.

It had heard two appeals, one filed by Mr. J Laxman Rao Patil challenging the verdict of the High Court of Bombay which had upheld the validity of the constitution in the provision of quota to the Maratha community in matters of education as well as government jobs in Maharashtra. 

The plea had also previously sought a stay order on the aforementioned order given by the High Court since the reservation at the moment remains around 65 per cent in education and 62 per cent in the government job sectors, both exceeding the cap of 50 per cent in the rule for total reservation. 

In the order given by the High Court of Bombay on the 27th of June in 2018, the court had stated that the 50% cap imposed by the top court for total reservations could be surpassed in some exceptional circumstances. 

The other filed appeal was done so by lawyer Sanjeet Shukla, the legal counsel for “Youth for Equality.” 

The appeal had stated that the Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC) Act, 2018 that was enacted to ensure reservation be given to the community of the Marathas in the categories of education and government jobs, had breached the ceiling of 50 per cent for total reservation given as fixed by the Supreme Court in their previous landmark judgment given in the case of Indira Sawhney. 

The legislature of Maharashtra had passed the bill which currently grants 16 percent of reservations to the Maratha community on the 30th of November in 2018.

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