The Supreme Court on Wednesday said it will begin day-to-day hearing from July 27 through videoconference on a clutch of pleas filed against reservation for the Marathas in education and jobs in Maharashtra.
A bench comprising Justices LN Rao, Hemant Gupta and S Ravindra Bhatt said the case parties should sit together and decide on the modalities of hearing as well as to sort out which party would take how much time to put forth its arguments and to ensure arguments were not repeated.
The apex court declined to pass any order for an interim stay on the quota and cited that the chances of resumption of physical courts look remote at present.
The Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC) Act, 2018 was enacted to provide quota to the Maratha community in jobs and educational institutions.
Senior Advocate Shyam Divan, representing some petitioners, contended that such case should be heard in a physical court and there was tremendous urgency to the matter.
"We may also need to revisit the concept of interlocutory relief. There is a whole group of postgraduate students who have their careers at risk," he argued.
The bench noted that it will list the case on July 27 and thereafter decide the schedule.
Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal contended that there is 10 per cent reservation for economic weaker sections, and it also required a hearing. In response, Justice Rao said if it needed to be considered, the bench will do the same.
Divan argued that 12 to 13 per cent reservation, which is a huge chunk, has been taken away, and questioned of the High Court was not bound by apex court's nine-Judge bench judgment that the quota should not exceed 50 per cent of the total seats/jobs available.
Advocate Shivaji M Jadhav contended that the virtual hearing is not possible as documents and other material running into thousands of pages was involved. In reply, Justice Rao said: "When do you think COVID-19 will subside and regular courts start? Let us start the hearing.
In June 2019, the Bombay High Court had upheld the reservation and held that 16 per cent reservation was not justifiable, and that instead the quota should not exceed 12 per cent in employment and 13 per cent in educational institutions admissions. In February this year, the top court declined to stay the High Court order.