SC refuses to interfere with Bombay high court order staying reservation for Marathas
The Maharashtra government had announced extension of reservation to Marathas through an ordinance issued in June.
NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Thursday refused to vacate the Bombay high court’s interim order staying reservation for Maratha community in public employment in Maharashtra.

The Maharashtra government had announced extension of reservation to Marathas through an ordinance issued in June.

It was stayed by the Bombay HC last month.

The SC said that since the HC has scheduled final hearing for January 5, it would not interfere in the interim stay.

A bench of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice MS Sonak had last month also stayed state’s decision to provide 5 per cent reservation in public employment under a special backward class category to about 50 sub-castes among Muslims and in private, unaided educational institutions, but allowed them reservation for education in state owned or aided institutions.

READ ALSO: Bombay HC stays Maharashtra govt’s decision to give 16% reservation to Marathas
Maratha reservations: Maharashtra government to approach Supreme Court

The Maratha and Muslim reservations took the reservation for backward class to 73 percent. The HC held that the state government cannot breach a 50 percent cap on quotas for backward classes as laid down by the Supreme Court Constitution bench.

The HC said, ”Going by clear findings of previous committees including the 2008 Justice R M Bapat committee we hold that Maratha community cannot be regarded as backward class.” Besides the National commission for backward class has held Maratha community to be “socially advanced and a prestigious community,” the HC observed.

The interim order, however, allows students who already secured admission under the two quotas to continue with the academic year unhindered. The HC, refused to stay its order for four weeks as sought by the state after pronouncing it. The state plans to go in appeal against the HC order.

“The reservation ceiling cannot exceed 50% except in extra ordinary situations for extraordinary reasons,” held the HC. It said, in the case of Marathas the state’s data had “glaring flaws” to justify it as a socially and economically backward community to merit any special reservation either in jobs or education. Neither do any exceptional circumstance exist to permit such reservation. But it said “the state spells out a prima facie case to exceed the 50% bar in education for specified backward class communities among Muslims.” The HC said the “data produced by the state on Muslims refers to abysmally low levels of educational achievement which ails the community”. The data thus justifies existence of exceptional circumstances that permit additional reservation for backward Muslims in state-run schools and colleges. But the HC held that the state cannot force private educational institutions. “Imposing reservation on private educational institutions constitutes to an unreasonable restriction on the fundamental right to carry out business of their choice.”

Read this story in Hindi — मराठा आरक्षण के मामले पर फडणवीस सरकार को झटका