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Constitution Bench to hear Maratha quota law in January 2021

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The Supreme Court said it will hear the challenge against the constitutionality of the Maharashtra Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC) Act, 2018, from January 25, 2021. The Act provides quota for Marathas in education and jobs. The Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan, L. Nageswara Rao, Hemant Gupta, S. Abdul Nazeer and Ravindra Bhat heard the case on Wednesday, it was referred to the larger bench by a three-judge bench in September.  

The bench, however, refused to pass any order to lift the stay imposed by the three-judge bench September on making appointments and admissions under the Maratha quota under the SEBC act.

Appearing for the state of Maharashtra, Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi said the state had submitted an application seeking modification so that it can continue with appointing people. He said the bench referring to the case cannot pass interim orders. The entire thing must be left to the Constitution Bench, Rohatgi said, adding it is settled law and practise.

He said three judges know of the case, and requested for the vacation of interim order by giving a birds-eye view for the two new judges. Rohatgi said the Marathas had been given reservations in education and jobs since they claimed to be educationally and socially backward. He said they wanted an independent quota and not as part of the Other Backward Classes quota, for which the Act was passed after bringing legislation in 2014. The Maharashtra Assembly approved the Justice Gaikwad Commission on whether Marathas were a separate group.

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Rohatgi said the report said Marathas were 30 per cent of the state’s population and needed quota apart from that of OBCs. The 2018 law gave 16 per cent quota for Marathas based on that report, he said.

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