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Maratha quota: Maharashtra govt to form rtd judges’ panel to suggest way ahead

The Maharashtra government on Saturday announced to appoint a committee under two retired high court (HC) judges to review the recent Supreme Court (SC) judgment over the Maratha reservation and suggest the way forward
PUBLISHED ON MAY 09, 2021 01:03 AM IST

The Maharashtra government on Saturday announced to appoint a committee under two retired high court (HC) judges to review the recent Supreme Court (SC) judgment over the Maratha reservation and suggest the way forward. The committee, comprising five-six other members including laws officers, is expected to submit its report in two weeks to the state government.

The Maharashtra government also asked chief secretary Sitaram Kunte to review the recruitments which have been affected owing to the verdict. According to the officials from the state government, there are more than 3,000 employees who have been recruited between November 2018 and September 2020 when the law was in force. The decision over according them permanent recruitment has to be taken.

“There are thousands of employees who were recruited on the basis of the reservation given in 2014, but are currently out of job because it was later struck down by the Bombay HC. Kunte has been asked to take a call on them with deliberations from the secretaries of other departments,” said an official from the general administration department.

The Marathas were given 12% and 13% quota in education and government jobs, respectively, under the Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC) Act, 2018. On Wednesday, SC quashed it, stating that people from the community cannot be declared educationally and socially backward just to bring them in the reserved category. The five-judge SC bench also refused to refer the 1992 Indra Sawhney judgment that set a 50-% cap on reservation to a larger bench for reconsideration.

The state cabinet sub-committee on Maratha reservation, headed by public works department minister Ashok Chavan and comprising other senior ministers, held a meeting to take a call on future course of action.

“The committee under retired HC judges will study the SC verdict minutely and give their observations and available legal remedy on the reservation. The state government will take its decision after the report is submitted in two weeks. The decision over filing the review petition before the five-judge [SC] bench will also be taken based on the report,” said Chavan.

The state government is also tapping the option of requesting the central government to intervene, as the judgment stated that the right to accord the reservation is with Centre after the 102nd Constitutional amendment.

“Chief minister Uddhav Thackeray will write to the President and prime minister, requesting them to take steps required for the reservation. The Centre has time and again clarified that the powers of the states have not been nullified even after the amendment, though the SC order has stated otherwise,” said Chavan.

Urban development department minister and member of the cabinet sub-committee Eknath Shinde said that the government was committed to continue the benefits to the Marathas.

“We have already rolled out the sops to the community in terms of scholarship, freeships, hostel facilities and financial assistance for entrepreneurship. They will further be streamlined,” he said.

Legal experts have opined that the state government has very limited options left on the issue.

“The review petition before the same [SC] bench would not help as there should be some other ground than the ones that have been exhausted. Even if the Maharashtra government requests the Centre for the reservation, the ratification of the backwardness of the Marathas would be a task as the quantifiable data submitted by the state backward class commission has not been accepted by the top court. The state can think of an entirely new law by weeding out the lacunae in SEBC Act, 2018, but it too will be subject to legal scrutiny,” an official from Mantralaya said.

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