Constitutional Law

Quota for Marathas Invalid – Supreme Court of India

By Adarsh Gautam

Reservation policy was introduced in our country to resolve inequality, oppression and discrimination faced by the weaker communities. It has definitely made a lot of better changes in our country but to see through it that it does not perpetuate any notion of caste in the society. The ceiling limit should not be disturbed and at the same time the amelioration of the weak class at a rapid speed can be done by providing additional measures to them. 

The judgement delivered by the honorable supreme court in DR. JAISHRI LAXMANRAO PATIL VERSUS THE CHIEF MINISTER & ORS. also known as the Maratha Quota Case. The Supreme Court has tried to widen the scope of Reservation given to the social and economically backward classes by propounding that the State should try to bring other measures into effect in addition to the reservations provided by the state in educational institutions and services under the Government for the welfare of the backward classes.

Maharashtra State provided reservation for appointments in the public services and other offices under the state. It also gave reservation of seats for admission in educational institutions in the State for Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC) Act, 2018. It was amended in 2019 granting 12% and 13% reservation for Maratha community in addition to 50% social reservation. The Indra Sawhney judgement fixed the upper limit of reservation up to 50%. Hence, after this act there were many questions put in front of the judges to look after the constitutional validity of the act. The issues such as whether the judgement pronounced in Indra Sawhney case is needed to be relooked upon as the needs of the society is changing, whether state has the autonomy to determine the backward classes and bestow affirmative actions upon them, were taken into consideration.

The court came to the decision that the limit of 50% is as per our constitutional ideals of equality and to see that in order to provide reservation to the weaker section the interest of the other people is not encroached upon as it is necessary to see that reservation which is for upliftment of backward castes may not become the social evil and further damage India’s growth towards the welfare state. Furthermore, it was also reiterated that as per amendment 102 of the Indian Constitution in which Article 342-A mentions that power to notify or describe a caste as socially or economically backward class is vested in the hands of President and the Parliament of India has also the power to alter the list of socially and economically backward class.

Thus, the act which raised the reservation percentage to 64% in educational institution and 65% in public services and other government service in the state of Maharashtra which was upheld by the High Court in Maharashtra considering the situation to be of exceptional in nature was not upheld by the Supreme Court as the honorable court was of the opinion that additional reservation provided to Marathas did not fall under the special situation. So that, it can exceed the ceiling limit of Indra Sawhney case. The court noted that Maratha population in the state of Maharashtra is around 30%, therefore, it cannot be considered as the marginalized section of the state and thus ruled that there is no need of such quota.

However, the court also realized the need of more effective measures for the weaker section and the judgement inter alia said that there should be an expansion in the scope of the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) as it can contribute towards the improvement of standard of living of the society at large. Beside this the Government can also come up with new and innovative ideas which will motivate the Private companies to ameliorate the weaker section. Justice Bhat gave examples such as to give Government contracts to such firms who have recruited people from backward sections into their office.

The court especially emphasized on the need to have a proper education system for the children. The Government should increase the funding in Education system, they should focus to help more to the meritorious child by giving a greater number of Scholarships and also to provide scholarship to students who want to pursue the higher education. Higher Education in our country is still need to have a lot more development to make our students more efficient and self-sufficient. Thus, the Government should put special emphasis on the higher education and it should keep a track record of the employment opportunities generated by it so to work to have a growth in it year by year.

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