A 5-judge Constitution bench of the Supreme Court has unanimously set aside the Maharashtra SEBC (State Reservation for Socially and Economically Backward Classes) Act which gave reservation to the Maratha community in admissions to educational institutions and government jobs in India's richest state. The court held that the 2018 Maharashtra state law violated principles of equality The bench comprising of Justice Ashok Bhushan, Justice L Nageswara Rao, Justice S Abdul Nazeer, Justice Hemant Gupta and Justice S Ravindra Bhat also refused to re-examine the 1992 Indra Sawhney judgement which disallowed any reservation above 50% of total seats or vacancies. The court found no valid reason to breach the 50% ceiling to give reservation to the Maratha community, ruling that the community can't be declared socially and educationally backward for the purpose of granting them any reservation. The state government had framed the law to grant 16% reservation to Marathas on 30 November 2018, which was upheld by the Bombay High Court on 27 June 2020. However, the High Court had reduced the quantum of reservation to 12% for educational institutions and 13% for government jobs based on the recommendation of Justice MB Gaikwad led state-appointed backward class commission. However, the top court upheld the 102nd Constitutional amendment by a 3:2 majority verdict. The 102nd amendment allowed only the Centre and barred states from identifying socially and economically backward classes to provide for their reservation. Maharashtra's Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray termed the top court verdict as unfortunate, and has urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to enact a law to provide reservation to the Maratha community. Protests have already begun in Maharashtra against the scrapped law, and as political parties and the state government are seeking legal alternatives against the top court verdict. Earlier, Centre had supported the Maratha reservation law and had argued in favour of its legal validity before the court.
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