Mumbai: Maharashtra on Monday allowed Marathas to avail reservation under the Economically Weak Section (EWS) category to accommodate around 6,000 people from the community in government service, roughly three weeks after the Supreme Court scrapped a separate quota for the influential group.
The government said Marathas with annual family income of less than ₹8 lakh could avail the EWS quota, set up in 2019. The resolution also clarified that the EWS quota benefits will be applied with retrospective effect.
The quota will be applicable from the period of interim stay (on Maratha reservation) on September 9 last year to the final Supreme Court verdict on May 5 , the government order said.
At present, a 10% EWS quota in jobs and education is given to sections of society not covered by any reservation. As Marathas no longer have quota, the government issued a fresh order making the community eligible.
In its May 5 order, the top court had said that admissions and appointments made under the 2018 Maratha quota law till September 9, 2020 (when the Supreme Court stayed the operation of the law), won’t be disturbed but the candidates will not be able to avail any further benefit.
But this didn’t help around 6,000 young men and women who completed various stages of government recruitment before September 9 but were not given appointment letters, said a state official on condition of anonymity.
“The SC order does not give protection to the employees not recruited before September 9 last year. Though state government had taken the decision of accommodating community in EWS on September 22 but the order was issued only on December 23 because of the resistance of the community. There are people recruited during this period. With the help of this order, we can now consider accommodating such youth in EWS quota. Some of the candidates from EWS quota may get thrown out of the reservation, but we are considering to accommodate them by creating extra posts,” said the official.
The law was passed in 2018 after months of violent agitation by Marathas, which makes up 32%of the state. The 2018 law was based on a state backward commission report and the window of “extraordinary situations” cited in the 1992 Indra Sawhney case. It provided 16% reservation in jobs and educational institutions to Marathas, taking the quantum of caste-based quota in the state to 68%.
In 2019, the Bombay high court reduced the quota to 12% in admissions and 13% in jobs, prompting students and other petitioners to move the Supreme Court.
On May 5, the top court scrapped the quota and called it unconstitutional. A five-judge bench lamented that the state government opted to give reservation to a class that was “socially dominant”, “politically dominant” and “in the mainstream of national life,” and thus, there was no justification to breach the 50% ceiling for a class that also had adequate representation in public employment.
After the verdict, the state government appointed a high-level committee under retired high court judge Dilip Bhosale to study the court order. On Monday, the panel was given seven more days submit its report.
“Besides the legal recourse to find out the way out to get the reservation back, the committee is also expected to recommend alternative to safeguards the jobs of youth who could not be recruited in due time. The decision over it will be taken in days after the submission of the report,” the official quoted above said.
Maratha leaders said they were unhappy with the decision. “We would not get even 4% share of the EWS quota as many other community from open category already have been getting these benefits,” said Rajendra Kondhare, general secretary, Akhil Bharatiya Maratha Mahasangh.