The Supreme Court on Friday posted for March 8 the final hearing of petitions challenging the Bombay High Court verdict upholding reservations to Marathas in jobs and education under Maharashtra Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC) Act, 2018.
A five-judge Constitution Bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan said the matter will now be listed on March 8 for final hearing and proposed to complete the hearing by March 18.
Indicating that physical hearing might resume from March, the Bench adjourned hearing on the validity of Maratha reservation for March 8.
"Post the matter for March 8. If physical hearing starts by then, then hearing through physical mode, and those who want to appear through video conference can argue through it. We fix March 8, 9 and 10 for hearing on behalf of petitioners. Respondents (State) to start arguments on March 12, 15, and 16. On March 17, we will hear intervenors and others. On March 18 court will hear the Attorney General of India and rejoinder by the petitioner on the same day. We propose to start the hearing on March 8 and complete it by March 18. Parties to give brief submission of their notes on their arguments, which may be filed by the end of this month," the Bench stated in its order.
During the hearing, senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the Maharashtra government, told the Bench that volumes of documents are being printed and it will take two weeks and urged the court to fix the matter in March and by that time physical hearing might commence.
The top court in 2019 restrained the Maharashtra government by an interim order to implement the quota law.
The Bench also comprises Justices Ashok Bhushan, L Nageswara Rao, S Abdul Nazeer, Hemant Gupta and Ravindra Bhat.
The bench was hearing two appeals, including one filed by J Laxman Rao Patil challenging the Bombay High Court order that upheld the constitutional validity of the quota for the Maratha community in education and government jobs in Maharashtra.
The petitioner has earlier sought stay on the High Court order as the reservation today is 65 per cent in education and 62 per cent in jobs, exceeding 50 percent cap in total reservation.
The Bombay High Court on June 27, 2019 had said the 50 per cent cap on total reservations imposed by the Supreme Court could be exceeded in exceptional circumstances.
Another appeal filed by advocate Sanjeet Shukla, a representative of "Youth for Equality", said the Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC) Act, 2018, enacted to grant reservation to the Maratha community people in jobs and education, breached the 50-per cent ceiling on reservation fixed by the top court in its judgment in the Indira Sahwney case.
( With inputs from ANI )
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