Dr Jaishri LakshmanRao Patil v. The Chief Minister & Anr.
Civil Appeal No. 3123 of 2020
The Maharashtra State Reservation for Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC) Act, 2018 declared Marathas to be a “Socially and Educationally Backward Class”. Reservations to the extent of 16 per cent of the total seats in educational institutions including private educational institutions and 16 per cent of the total appointments in direct recruitment for public services and posts under the State. The constitutional validity of the Act was challenged by filing Public Interest Litigations in the High Court of Bombay. The High Court of Bombay upheld the constitutionality of the Act. However, the High Court reduced the quantum of reservations provided therein from 16 per cent to 12 per cent in respect of the educational institutions and from 16 per cent to 13 per cent in respect of public employment.
The bench comprising of Justices L. Nageswara Rao, Hemant Gupta and S. Ravindra Bhat observed that the relaxation of the strict rule of 50 per cent can be made in certain extraordinary situations. Referring to Indra Sawhney judgment, the bench observed that the “People living in far flung and remote areas not being in the mainstream of national life should be treated in a different way. In view of the conditions peculiar to them they are entitled to be given relaxation. It was made clear that extreme caution has to be exercised and a special case made out for relaxation of the rule of 50 per cent. The bench said that if the Court is convinced that the statute is ex-facie un-constitutional and the factors like balance of convenience, irreparable injury and Public Interest are in favour of passing an interim order, the Court can grant interim relief. There is always a presumption in favour of the constitutional validity of a legislation. Unless the provision is manifestly unjust or glaringly un-constitutional, the courts do show judicial restraint in staying the applicability of the same.