Recently, the Supreme Court (SC) declared a Maharashtra law which provides reservation benefits to the Maratha community, taking the quota limit in the State in excess of 50%, as unconstitutional.

SC set aside law on Maratha reservation
SC set aside law on Maratha reservation

Facts :

In 2017 A 11-member commission headed by Retired Justice N G Gaikwad recommended Marathas should be given reservation under Socially and Educationally Backward Class (SEBC).

In 2018, Maharashtra Assembly passed a Bill proposing 16% reservation for Maratha community. In 2018 itself Bombay High Court while upholding the reservation pointed out that instead of 16% it should be reduced to 12% in education and 13%in jobsben. The SC in 2020 stayed its implementation and referred the case to Chief Justice of India for a larger bench.


  • Violation of Fundamental Rights:

A separate reservation for the Maratha community violates Articles 14 (right to equality) and 21 (due process of law).

  • Reservation breaching the 50% limit will create a society based on “caste rule”.
  • The Maratha reservation of 12% and 13% (in education and jobs) had increased the overall reservation ceiling to 64% and 65%, respectively.

In the Indira Sawhney judgment 1992, SC had categorically said 50% shall be the rule, only in certain exceptional and extraordinary situations for bringing far-flung and remote areas’ population into mainstream said 50% rule can be relaxed.

  • No Further Benefits:

Appointments made under the Maratha quota following the Bombay High Court judgment endorsing the State law would hold, but they would get no further benefits.

  • Deprived States of the Power to Identify SEBCs:

There will only be a single list of SEBC with respect to each State and Union Territory notified by the President of India, and that States can only make recommendations for inclusion or exclusion, with any subsequent change to be made only by Parliament.

The Bench unanimously upheld the constitutional validity of the 102nd Constitution Amendment but differed on the question whether it affected the power of states to identify SEBCs.

Current ruling:

The Supreme Court also held that this law does not qualify for the “exceptional circumstances” mentioned in the Indra Sawhney case.

Earlier the Supreme court mentioned that it may re-examine the 50% reservation cap set by the Mandal case ruling of 1992(known as Indra Sawhney case).

But during the recent verdict, the court mentioned that there is no need to revisit the 50% reservation cap. The court mentioned that the arbitrary 50% ceiling set by the Mandal case is now constitutionally recognized.

  • Direction to NCBC:

Asked the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) to expedite the recommendation of SEBCs so that the President can publish the notification containing the list of SEBCs in relation to States and Union Territories expeditiously.