SC verdict on maratha quota: To protect rights of states, considering appeal before bigger bench, says Union minister

The Supreme Court had further dismissed a review petition filed by the Centre Thursday, challenging the interpretation, stating that there were no grounds for a review.

Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment Thaawarchand Gehlot Saturday said that his Ministry was looking at ways in which the “rights of the states can be protected’’ after a Supreme Court decision on May 5 interpreted the 102nd amendment — to hold that the power to identify and notify Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBCs) at both Central and state levels will now lie exclusively with the President.

The Supreme Court had further dismissed a review petition filed by the Centre Thursday, challenging the interpretation, stating that there were no grounds for a review.

“The Constitutional provision regarding the OBC lists is that these have a dual responsibility. There is a Central list that the Centre maintains and a separate state list wherein the states are in charge of identifying and notifying backward classes. As far as the Maratha reservation issue in Maharashtra is concerned, we believe that the matter lies solely within the purview of the state government. But according to the Supreme Court decision, the state government’s powers come to the Centre and the Maratha issue now falls under the purview of the Union government, which we don’t agree with,” Gehlot told The Sunday Express.

Gehlot said that the Ministry has been consulting with the Law Ministry and seeking legal opinion on how to handle the matter. “We are verifying whether it is possible for us to appeal to a bigger bench that could look into the issue. If this is no longer possible, only then will we consider bringing in an amendment in Parliament,’’ said the minister, adding that while the Ministry is looking at taking the next step as soon as possible, it is uncertain whether this will take place ahead of the next House session.

The Supreme Court has been hearing the petitions challenging the Maharashtra State Reservation for Socially and Educationally Backward Classes Act, 2018, saying it would breach the ceiling of 50 per cent quota limit. The Supreme Court’s interpretation reduces the two separate lists for OBCs – one by the Centre and other by the state – to just one list which now only the President can notify or can be amended through Parliament. According to the interpretation, the states will now only have the power of recommendation – for either notifying or denotifying OBCs.

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