There will be no separate reservation in public employment for Marathas even if the state government proves the community is educationally and socially backward, the Bombay high court observed on Tuesday. The court made the observation while directing the government not to keep 16% posts in public employment vacant for the community.
“We are of the opinion that it would not be open for the state government to keep any separate reservation for Maratha community, even if it is shown that the community is educationally and socially backward, as the total reservation in public employment has already crossed the ceiling limit of 50% in Maharashtra,” the division bench of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and justice Girish Kulkarni said.
The bench directed the government not to keep 16% seats – meant for the Maratha community according to the government’s decision of June 25, 2014. Instead, the bench granted the government liberty to fill in such seats on temporary or ad-hoc basis till the time the petitions challenging the validity of the decision are decided by the court.
The directive came after counsel for one of the petitioners, senior advocate Pradeep Sancheti pointed out that though the high court has stayed the government decision — extending the benefit of reservation to both the Maratha and specified Muslim communities in public employment and education — attempts were being made to indirectly overreach the court order by keeping 16% of the seats advertised vacant.
Advocate general Sunil Manohar responded to the complaint and said after the high court issued the stay order on November 14, 2014, no seats were being kept vacant for the Maratha community. He said seats were kept vacant only in case of the advertisements that were issued prior to the stay order and the recruitment process was substantially complete, but not after the stay order.
Sancheti, however, pointed out some recent advertisements carving out 16% of the total seats advertised for the Maratha community and declaring that those seats would be kept vacant. Perusal of the order prompted the judges to issue the order not to keep the seats vacant. They said no useful purpose would be served by keeping the seats vacant and therefore allowed those seats to be filled in on a temporary or ad-hoc basis.
On November 14, 2014, the high court had stayed the government’s decision to carve out 16% reservation for Maratha community in public employment and education. The court had also stayed the benefit of 5% reservation extended to specified 50 Muslim communities in public employment, but allowed 5% reservation in government-run and aided educational institutes to these Muslim communities.