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What happened?

The Supreme Court of India has asked responses of all states on the question that whether reservation should continue to remain within 50% or the landmark judgment in 1992 Indira Sawhney case needs to be re-visited by a larger bench.

It asked the states to respond on the question, whether the 102nd Amendment to the Constitution deprives the state legislature of its power to enact a law determining the socially and economically backward classes and conferring benefits to them under its enabling powers.

Indira Sawhney Verdict

In 1992 in the case of Indra Sawhney v. Union of India, the Supreme Court had fixed reservation for the marginalized and poor in government jobs and educational institutions at 50% but it can be relaxed only in exceptional and extraordinary circumstances.

Issue related to reservation in different states

  • With the passing years, several states like Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu have crossed the limiting line and made laws which permits the reservation over 60%.

  • A Bench of 5 Judges has set up to hear the challenge relating to ‘Maratha quota law’ and decided not to confine the question of reservation over 50% to just limit to State of Maharashtra.

  • That’s why Bench has asked other states to submit their responses regarding as to allow reservation beyond 50% or continuing the reservation quota within 50% boundary.

Maratha Quota law

· The Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC) Act, 2018 of Maharashtra was enacted to grant reservation to people of the Maratha community in the state in jobs and admissions.

· The Bombay High Court, had while upholding the law in June 2019, 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 in addition to 50% reservation.

· The Supreme Court had on September 9 last year stayed the implementation of legislation and referred the batch of pleas challenging the validity of law to a larger bench, but made it clear that status of those who have availed of the benefits would not be disturbed.

· The Supreme Court said that it will examine whether Maratha quota law falls within ‘exceptional and extraordinary circumstances’ as laid down in the Indra Sawhney case.

102nd Constitutional Amendment Act, 2018

This Amendment granted constitutional status to the National Commission for Backward Classes. Article 338B and 342A has been inserted by this Amendment Act.

· Article 338B provides that there shall be a Commission for the socially and educationally backward classes to be known as the National Commission for Backward Classes.

· Article 342A provides that the President may with respect to any State or UT and where it is a State, after consultation with the Governor thereof, by public notification, specify the socially and educationally backward classes which shall for the purposes of this Constitution be deemed to be socially and educationally backward classes in relation to that State or UT.

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