By LE Desk

New Delhi, July 2, 2021: The power that lies only with the President to add a community to the Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC) list cannot be given to states, the Supreme Court has said, dismissing a petition to review an earlier ruling.

A five-judge constitution bench dismissed the Centre’s plea that was filed in May, days after the Supreme Court ruled that only the President has the power to identify and add a community to the SEBC list.

“The grounds taken in the review petition do not fall within the limited ground on which review petition can be considered. The various grounds taken in the review petition have already been dealt with in the main judgment. We do not find any sufficient ground to entertain this review petition. The review petition is dismissed,” the court said in an order posted on its website on Thursday, reported NDTV.

The Supreme Court on May 5 upheld the 102nd Constitutional (Amendment) Act that led to the formation of the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) and took away states’ power to add communities to the SEBC list for reservation in jobs and admissions.

The Centre in its petition said the power of states to add communities in the SEBC list can’t be scrapped.

“As provided in the Supreme Court Rules, 2013, a Review Petition for review of the judgement of the Hon’ble Supreme Court has been filed by the Union of India on 13th May, 2021,” the Social Justice and Empowerment Ministry said in a statement, reported NDTV.

On May 5, a five-judge Constitution bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan, in their four separate verdicts, was unanimous on other key issues such as the Maratha quota law was invalid and the 1992 Mandal judgement, capping total reservation to 50 per cent, did not need a relook or reference to larger bench.

Justice S Ravindra Bhat wrote a 132-page verdict and Justices L Nageswara Rao and Hemant Gupta, in their separate judgements, concurred with Justice Bhat and his reasoning in holding that states have lost their power to identify SEBC under their territory the after 102nd Constitutional (Amendment) Act.

The states can, through their existing mechanisms, or even statutory commissions, can only make suggestions to the President or the commission, for “inclusion, exclusion or modification of castes or communities” in the SEBC list, Justice Bhat said.

The 102nd Constitution (Amendment) Act of 2018 inserted Articles 338B, which deals with the structure, duties and powers of the National Commission for Backward Classes, and 342A, which deals with the power of the President to add a particular caste as SEBC and power of parliament to change the list.

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