Can exceed the 50% limit on quotas?

Context: The Supreme Court referred to a Constitution Bench the question of whether states can exceed the 50% limit on quotasthat was set by a nine-judge Bench in the landmark Indra Sawhney vs Union of India (1992) case. The question will now be taken up by a Bench comprising at least 11 judges.


Case in Supreme Court

  • The petitions appealed a 2019 Bombay High Court decision that upheld the constitutional validity of the Maratha quota under the Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC) Act, 2018.

Bombay HC ruling

  • A Division Bench of the Bombay High Court ruled last year that the limit of the reservation should not exceed 50%”; however, “in exceptional circumstances and extraordinary situations, this limit can be crossed subject to availability of quantifiable and contemporaneous data reflecting backwardness, the inadequacy of representation and without affecting the efficiency in administration”.
  • With the addition of 12-13% Maratha quota, the total reservation in the state went up to 64-65%.

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