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Supreme Court quashes reservation for Marathas: All you need to know

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The law had resulted into Maharashtra becoming the state with the second highest reservations in the country with 68 percent caste-based quota

Supreme Court quashes reservation for Marathas: All you need to know
A Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court has quashed the Maharashtra law, granting reservation to the Maratha community in admissions and government jobs in the state, terming it  "unconstitutional".
The bench said that there was no exceptional circumstance to provide reservation to the Marathas exceeding the 50 percent ceiling in violation of Article 14.
Making it clear that people belonging to the Maratha community cannot be considered educationally and socially backward so as to bring them within the ambit of reservation, a five-judge bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, L Nageswara Rao, S Abdul Nazeer, Hemant Gupta, and S Ravindra Bhat 
unanimously struck down the state government’s decision.
The bench also said that appointments made in government jobs and admissions in post-graduate courts after the Bombay High Court verdict of 2019 upholding Maratha quota and September 9, 2020 order of the top court staying the implementation of quota will not be affected.
The Legal Battle 
On November 30, 2018, Maharashtra had passed a bill on the Maratha quota based on the findings of Justice N.G. Gaikwad Commission.
Bombay High Court upheld the Maharashtra State Reservation for Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC) Act of 2018 in its June 2019 judgment after a bunch of petitions were filed against the law. But the court had asked the state government to reduce the reservation from 16 percent to 12-13 percent as recommended by the State Backward Classes Commission.
In July 2019, appeals were filed before the Supreme Court against the HC decision. On March 26 2020, the top court had reserved its verdict on the batch of pleas.
The Law
The law had resulted in Maharashtra becoming the state with the second-highest reservations in the country.  With a 68 percent caste-based quota, it just trails Tamil Nadu which has 69 percent caste-based reservation. It was anticipated that the law could also spur reservation demands already being made in different parts of India by different caste groups.
The SC had earlier sought the state government’s response on whether reservation could be allowed beyond the 50 percent limit.
The Centre had argued in the top court that Maharashtra has the legislative competence for granting reservation to Marathas and its decision is Constitutional as the 102nd amendment does not denude a state of the power to declare its list of SEBC.
Maharashtra Government seeks Centre's Intervention
Urging the Prime Minister and the President to take an urgent decision on the matter of granting reservation, the Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray termed the SC decision as “unfortunate”.
The Chief Minister also said that he cannot welcome the verdict as the court had scrapped a law “unanimously passed by the sovereign State legislature”, the Hindu reported.
The Union government had earlier argued in the Supreme Court that Maharashtra’s decision to grant reservations is Constitutional as the 102nd amendment does not restrict a state’s power to declare its list of Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC).

BJP’s response to the SC’s decision

The BJP has blamed the Shiv Sena-led state government for not being able to present a robust defence of the reservation law in the top court for the Maratha community in jobs and education. The former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis has expressed disappointment over the SC’s decision to scrap the Maratha reservation law and claimed there was "lack of coordination" on part of the state government while making its submissions before the apex court, according to reports.

Fadnavis demanded that “the government should prepare a panel of senior counsels and formulate a report on the way forward” and an all-party meeting should be convened on this matter.

The SEBC Act was passed in 2018 during the tenure of the Fadnavis led BJP-Shiv Sena government in the State.

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