SC to consider early hearing plea on Maratha quota

New Delhi, July 29 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Monday said it will consider early hearing to a petition challenging reservation to the Maratha community in jobs and education.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi asked the petitioner to give a memo and then it would look into it.

The court observation came after being informed that the petitions which were to be listed for the hearing are not in the cause list of the top court.

Earlier, the top court had sought a response from the Maharashtra government on pleas by two individuals, Jaishri Laxmanrao Patil and Sanjeet Shukla.

The petitioners have argued that the Maratha reservation breached the 50 per cent ceiling set by the apex court for quotas in each state and the High Court had overlooked certain legal clauses.

The pleas claimed that the state does not have the authority or law to create a class like Maratha as a separate socially and educationally backward class.

The counsels for the petitioners contended that expanding the ambit of reservation was under the authority of the Centre and not the state government. Therefore, the reservation will require a constitutional amendment.

Earlier, the top court had agreed to hear a petition challenging a Bombay High Court judgement, allowing reservations for Marathas in jobs and educational institutions.

The Bombay High Court in June upheld the validity of the reservations granted to the Maratha community under the Socially and Educationally Backward Class (SEBC) category, but reduced the quota from 16 per cent to 12 per cent in education and 13 per cent in jobs. It observed the higher quota was "not justifiable".

A division bench of Justices Ranjit More and Bharati Dangre also said that the government was entitled to create a separate category for SEBCs and grant them reservations.

The verdict came on a bunch of petitions challenging the state government's November decision granting 16 per cent reservation to the Maratha community under the SEBC category.

In his initial reaction, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis welcomed the court verdict and indicated that the new quota percentages recommended were acceptable to the government.

Vijayalaxmi Khopade, the lawyer for one of the petitioners, said the court also endorsed the report of the nine-member M.G. Gaikwad Commission classifying the Marathas as a "Socially and Educationally Backward Class".

--IANS

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