A five-judge bench of the Supreme Court examining the constitutional validity of reservation in government jobs and educational institutions for the Maratha community in Maharashtra is likely to announce its verdict on Wednesday.
The constitution bench will also decide if the 50 per cent cap on reservation imposed by the Supreme Court in the 1992 Mandal judgement needs to be revisited.
The court’s will also deal with the question of allowing states to give benefits of quotas in the changing socioeconomic situation.
In 2018, the BJP government in Maharashtra had passed the Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC) Act that provided 16 per cent reservation to the community.
Hearing a petition that argued the Maharashtra government’s decision amounted to providing the Maratha community with “permanent crutches”, the Bombay High Court had upheld the quota in 2019, but said the quantum was “unjustifiable”.
It had ruled that the state government “possesses legislative competence to create a separate category of the Socially and Educationally Backward Class and grant reservation”. The reservation must not exceed 12 per cent in jobs and 13 per cent in admissions, it added.
The Supreme Court had put the Bombay High Court judgment on hold last year. It has been holding regular hearings to decide on the matter.
The petitioners argue that the Maratha quota is unconstitutional as with it the state’s total reservation exceeds 50 per cent.
The centre, which has been supporting the Maratha quota, argues states can grant quota and the decision is constitutional.
In March this year, the Supreme Court asked the centre for how many generations would reservations in jobs and education continue.
“If there is no 50 per cent or no limit, as you are suggesting, what is the concept of equality then. We will ultimately have to deal with it. What is your reflection on that…? What about the resultant inequality? How many generations will you continue?” the bench, comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan, L Nageswara Rao, S Abdul Nazeer, Hemant Gupta and S Ravindra Bhat, said.
With inputs from PTI