Bombay High Court: In an interim order, a bench comprising of MS Shah, CJ and MS Sonak, J stayed the ordinance to provide 16% reservation to the Maratha community in government jobs and educational institutions in Maharashtra. The Court also stayed the 5% quota for Muslims in government jobs but allowed reservation in educational institutions, except private ones, citing “abysmally low” educational achievements.
The Court after hearing the contentions from both sides observed that with this additional quota the reservation crosses the 50 per cent cap set by the Supreme Court and hence this reservation was not constitutional. The judges said the Rane Committee report which claimed Marathas to be socially and economically backward suffered from several glaring flaws and going by findings of previous committees, including the Bapat committee, the Maratha community could not be regarded as backward class. Besides, the National Commission for Backward Classes had held the Marathas to be socially forward, the Court pointed out. The Court also stated that there had been no attempt by the state to establish some element of social oppression or discrimination against a community for whose benefit the reservation is to be provided beyond the 50% ceiling set by the Supreme Court.
Accepting reservation for Muslims in education, the judges held that in the view of the findings in the report of the Sachar Committee and similar findings in the report of Dr Mehmoodur Rehman Study Group, the state government had made out a prima facie case for providing for reservation of seats for admissions in educational institutions and even by raising the existing percentage of reservations from 52 per cent to 57 per cent of seats.
About reservation in employment for Muslims, the Court observed that applying the law laid down by the Supreme Court in the cases of M Nagaraj vs. Union of India (2006) 8 SCC 212 and Rohtas Bhankhar vs. Union of India, (2014) 8 SCC 872, the state had no power to breach the ceiling limit of 50 per cent and therefore the state cannot be permitted to implement Ordinance of 2014 for reservation in favour of specified Muslim communities, in matters of public employment. The bench also refused to accept additional government pleader Geeta Shastri’s prayer to stay operation of this order for four weeks so that it could be challenged in the Supreme Court. Sanjeet Shukla vs. State of Maharashtra,2014 SCC OnLine Bom 1672, decided on 14-11-2014