‘No sufficient grounds’: SC on Centre’s plea for states’ power on SEBCs

On May 13, the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment had issued a statement saying the Centre has filed a review petition challenging the May 5 verdict.
Supreme Court
The Supreme Court of India

New Delhi: The Supreme Court has dismissed the Centre’s petition seeking review of its May 5 majority judgment which held the 102nd Constitution Amendment took away states’ power to declare Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC) for the purpose of reservation in jobs and admissions.

A five-judge bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan, L. Nageswara Rao, S. Abdul Nazeer, Hemant Gupta and S. Ravindra Bhat said: “We have gone through the review petition filed against the judgment dated May 5. The grounds taken in the review petition do not fall within the limited ground on which review petition can be considered.”

It added that the various grounds taken in the review petition have already been dealt with in the main judgment.

The bench said: “We do not find any sufficient ground to entertain this review petition. The review petition is dismissed.”

The top court also rejected the Centre’s application for open court hearing in the matter.

On June 28, the five judges had taken up the matter in chambers. However, the order was only uploaded on Thursday evening.

On May 5, the top court had unanimously set aside the Maharashtra law granting quota to Marathas and declined to refer 1992 Mandal verdict capping reservation at 50 per cent to a larger bench.

The top court, in a 3:2 majority verdict, had ruled that 102nd Constitution Amendment, which also led to setting up of National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC), gives exclusive power to Centre to identify and declare SEBCs, and only the President can notify the list.

However, all the five judges on the bench had held that amendment was valid and did not violate the basic structure of the Constitution.

On May 13, the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment had issued a statement saying the Centre has filed a review petition challenging the May 5 verdict.

In the review petition, the Centre had argued that majority verdict had upheld the validity of Article 342A but in doing so, it has interpreted that the provision denudes the states from exercising the power to identify and declaring SEBCs.

The Centre had also argued the minority of two judges, including judge heading the bench, has expressly held the Article 342A does not deprive states of their power and jurisdiction and competence to identify and declare the SEBCs. The Centre had emphasised that this is the correct interpretation of Article 342A.

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