The Supreme Court recently pronounced that the Centre alone is empowered to Socially and Economically Backward Classes (SEBC) and include them in the Central List for claiming reservation benefits.
- The judgment was pronounced upholding the 102nd constitutional amendments.
- The Apex court stated that the 102nd constitutional amendment has taken away the powers of state governments to designate Socially and Economically Backward Classes.
- The Supreme Court said that after the insertion of Article 342A in the Constitution, the Centre alone is empowered to identify SEBC.
- The verdict was delivered by a Constitution Bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, L. Nageswara Rao, S. Abdul Nazeer, Hemant Gupta and S. Ravindra Bhat by a 3:2 majority.
- However, the court also said: “The states’ power to make reservations, in favour of particular communities or castes, the quantum of reservations, the nature of benefits and the kind of reservations, and all other matters falling within the ambit of Articles 15 and 16 – except with respect to identification of SEBCs, remains undisturbed
- The State Governments have been expanding the list of SEBC to entitle the recipient communities with quota benefits.
About Indra Sawhney Case:
- The State Government has full powers to identify a backward class.
- The Sawhney Case verdict directed the appointment of National Backward Classes Commission and State Backward Classes Commission.
- Thus, 102nd constitutional amendment was brought in and the commissions were established.
102nd Constitutional Amendments:
- Article 342A was inserted into the Constitution by way of the 102nd Constitutional Amendment Act.
- Article 338 B deals with the structure, powers and duties of National Commission for Backward Classes.
- Article 342 A deals with the power of the president to notify a particular caste as Socially and Economically Backward.
Why did the issue come up?
- The Maharashtra State Government had declared the Maratha Community as the Socially and Economically Backward Class.
- However, the Supreme Court has struck down the Maratha reservation provided by the State Government under SEBC act, 2018.
- The Bombay High Court recently upheld the Maharashtra Socially and Economically Backward Classes Act, 2018 which extended reservation to the Maratha community in public education and employment.
- This was challenged in Supreme Court by various petitions.
- The Supreme Court of India (SCI) is the highest judicial forum and final court of appeal under the Constitution of India, the highest constitutional court, with the power of constitutional review.
- It consists of the Chief Justice of India and a maximum of 34 judges, it has extensive powers in the form of original, appellate, and advisory jurisdictions.
- It is regarded as the most powerful public institution in India.
- It was established on 26 January 1950.
- It is headquartered in New Delhi.
- The current CJI of the Supreme Court is Nuthalapati Venkata Ramana