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News: A 5 judge constitutional bench of the Supreme Court, unanimously declared Maharashtra state law that provided reservation to the Maratha community, exceeding the cap of overall 50%. 

Background of Maratha Reservation:

  • Between 2016-2017, massive political rallies were organised in the state of Maharashtra as a sign of protest against rape of a 15 year old girl and they demanded Maratha reservation.

  • In June 2017, Maharashtra government set up a committee headed by Retired Justice N G Gaikwad.

  • The commission submitted a report saying that Maratha should be given reservation under Socially and educationally backward communities (SEBC).

  • In November 2018: the government of Maharashtra passed an act named as  Maharashtra State Socially and Educationally Backward Act which gave 16%  reservation to the Maratha community.

  • The act was further approved by Maharashtra State Backward Class Commission.

  • Then, a public interest litigation was filed in Bombay high court, which held the reservation constitutional but reduced the percentage to 12%.

  • In September, 2020 Supreme court stayed its implementation and now in itt verdict in Jaishri Laxmanrao Patil v. Chief Minister case, has quashed the reservation all together. 

Supreme Court judgement:

  • It held the reservation for Maratha as Ultra Vires and unconstitutional.

  • It highlighted, Marathas constitute 32 percent of the state population, they are a politically dominant caste and are in the mainstream of national life, adequately represented in public service.

  • SC further found out that the separate reservation for the Maratha community violated Articles 14 (right to equality) and 21 (due process of law) of the constitution.

  • It said that there are no exceptional/ extraordinary circumstances due to which the Maratha community should be given reservation beyond the cap of 50%, which was declared as the precondition for giving reservation beyond 50% by the supreme court in Indira Sawhney case.

  • Supreme Court on Indira Sawhney :

    • It denied to revisit the judgement.

    • It says the judgement has stood the test of the time.

    • SC said, the cap of 50% on reservation with the flexibility to breach the cap in extraordinary situations/circumstances if a Just balance or Goldilock solutions.


  • Under 102nd Constitution Amendment Act, under article 338B National Commission for Backward Class got the constitutional status and as per the court interpretation of the act:

    • Now, onwards there will only be a single with respect to each state/ union territory list of socially and educationally backward classes as it is there for SCs and STs.

    • Under article 342A{inserted by 102nd constitutional amendment act},  It will be notified by the President, in case of state it should be done with the consultation of the Governor of the state.

    • States can only recommend the inclusion and exclusion of a particular caste.

    • However, power to make any changes in the list rests with the parliament of India.

*However, the Honourable President’s power to notify, does not impact the power of states to provide reservation or any other matter that falls under the ambit of article 15 and 16 of the constitution.

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