ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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On the Maratha Reservations Judgment: Part II

Apart from holding the Maratha reservations unconstitutional, the Supreme Court also interpreted the 102nd amendment to take away the power of state governments to designate communities as “socially and educationally backward classes.” This particular aspect of the Court’s judgment is poorly reasoned, goes contrary to the express provisions of the Constitution and threatens to upset well-set principles and practices in relation to reservations in India.


The Supreme Court’s constitution bench judgment in Dr Jaishree Laxmanrao Patil v The Chief Minister1 (hereinafter “Patil”) not only struck down the 2018 Maharashtra law but also interpreted the Constitution (One Hundred and Second Amendment) Act, 2018 (“102nd Amendment Act”) to the Constitution. Unlike its unanimous conclusion that the 2018 Maharashtra law was unconstitutional, the Court was unable to agree on the interpretation of the 102nd amendment. The five judges were split three to two on this aspect with Justice Ravindra Bhat, Justice Nageswara Rao and Justice Hemant Gupta in the majority and Justices Ashok Bhushan and Abdul Nazeer in the minority.

Continuing the analysis of the Patil judgment from last month’s column (Kumar 2021), in this column, I will first give a brief background to the 102nd amendment itself and its content before going into an analysis of the opinions of the judges on its interpretation. Given that Justice Bhat has delivered the opinion with the most detailed reasoning on this aspect on behalf of the majority and Justice Bhushan has spoken for both himself and Justice Nazeer, I will be comparing the approaches of the two judges in this context. In my view, Justice Bhat’s approach to interpreting the 102nd amendment is constitutionally unsound and in this column, I will also explain why, arguing that Justice Bhushan’s approach to the matter is correct.

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Updated On : 19th Jun, 2021
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