The Supreme Court while hearing petitions challenging the validity of the Maratha quota on Friday, sought to know for how long the system of reservations in the education and jobs sector will continue The petitioners had argued that the provision for 12% reservation for Marathas in jobs and 13% in admissions would breach the ceiling of 50% quota limit imposed by the Supreme Court in a landmark verdict in 1992.

The court asked the question after senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the Maharashtra government, urged it to re-examine the 50% ceiling on the reservation for economically and socially backward classes. Rohatgi argued that the ceiling on reservation needed a relook since there had been changes in circumstances over the years. The court asked him if it can be said that no members of backward castes had advanced over the years!

The five-judge Constitution Bench, headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan, expressed concern about the inequality that will emerge if the ceiling is removed. “If there is no 50% or no limit, as you are suggesting, what is the concept of equality?” The court asked, according to the sources “We will ultimately have to deal with it. What is your reflection on that? What will be Article 14? How many generations will you continue…?”The senior lawyer clarified that he did not think the Supreme Court’s cap on reservations should be scrapped altogether. “I am raising issues – where 30 years have gone by, the law has changed, the population has grown, backward persons may also have increased,” he added.

The court will continue hearing the matter on Monday since the arguments remained inconclusive.

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