There will be no Martha quota for jobs or college admissions for now, the Supreme Court said today, sending the larger issue of validity of such a quota to a larger bench. The Chief Justice of India, SA Bobde, will take a call on the constitution of the larger bench, the court said in response to petitions that challenged the law, arguing that the total quota now exceeds the 50 per cent cap set by the top court.
While the ruling has halted admissions under Maratha quota for this year, admissions to Post-Graduate courses will not be altered, said the three-judge bench of Justices L Nageswara Rao, Hemant Gupta and S Ravindra Bhat, which delivered the verdict.
Maharashtra had passed a law -- the Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC) Act -- in 2018, allowing 16 per cent reservation for Marathas in educational institutions and government jobs.
After the law was challenged, the Bombay High Court' upheld the constitutional validity of the law. The court, however, cut down on the quantum of quota, saying it was not "justifiable".
In July, following the high court order, the Maharashtra government cut down the Maratha reservation from 16 per cent to 12 per cent in educational institutions and 13 per cent in government jobs.
The High Court's decision was challenged in the Supreme Court by aa number of petitioners. One of them, who represented the non-profit organization "Youth for Equality" contended that the quota law "breached the 50 per cent ceiling on reservation fixed by the top court in its landmark judgment in the Indira Sahwney case, also known as the "Mandal verdict".
In July, the Supreme Court had refused to put a temporary freeze on the Bombay High Court order.
The state government, anticipating a challenge to the reservation law, had earlier filed a caveat in the top court saying no "ex-parte order should be passed on any plea challenging the high court judgment without hearing the state".