Mumbai: After the Supreme Court suspended the law to grant reservation to the socially and educationally backward class Maratha community, there are signs that politics in the state will heat up on the Maratha reservation after the OBCs, such as the State government’s decision to apply EWS reservation in job recruitment to Maratha applicants from economically weaker sections with retroactive effect.
Although the decision to implement the reservation for the Maratha candidates of EWS is from the Mahavikas Aghadi government, the BJP government in the center and in the state is again the target of criticism from the opposition.
During the government of Devendra Fadnavis in the state, the SEBC Act was enacted in November 2018 to implement reservation in education and government jobs for the Maratha community. The law was upheld by the Bombay High Court, but was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. Therefore, the then alliance government decided to reserve the EWS for the economically weaker sections of the Maratha community.
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The Supreme Court had suspended the SEBC Act on September 9, 2020. Hence, the question arose as to what to do with the Maratha candidates who participated in the education admission and recruitment process. At that time, on December 23, 2020, the coalition government issued a government decree and decided to apply a reservation to these EWS candidates with retroactive effect. It was challenged in the High Court by applicants from the original EWS category. The High Court on Friday declared the decision illegal. From there, the opposition parties, especially the Congress party, replayed how the BJP government at the center and the then Fadnavis government in the state were responsible for the cancellation of the Maratha reservation.
Ashok Chavan, Chairman of the Cabinet Sub-Committee on the Maratha Reserve in the Maha Vikas Aghadi government and a top Congress leader, demanded that the High Court decision be immediately challenged in the Supreme Court. Sanjay Lakhe Patil, Secretary General of the State Congress and Petitioner on the Maratha Reserve, has alleged that the anti-reservation stance of the BJP and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh spells the end of the Maratha Reserve legal battle.
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Originally, the BJP government in the Center took away the right of a community to appoint an SEBC by amending the 102nd Constitution. However, the then Fadnavis government passed the Maratha Reserves Act, which could not survive the Supreme Court. Secondly, the state Backward Classes Commission has been given the responsibility to check the social and educational backwardness of the Maratha community. But the Fadnavis government entrusted the work of the investigation to Mhalgi Prabodhini of Sangh and four or five other organisations. The only exception was the Gokhale Institute of Economics and Politics, Pune. The backwardness of the Maratha society could not be proven from this investigation. Therefore, Lakhe Patil says that the SEBC law has been repealed.
Now the state government is expected to appeal to the Supreme Court against the High Court verdict and the Shinde-Fadnavis government has reversed the decision by the Maha Vikas Aghadi government to create more government service positions for the Maratha candidates, they demanded to revive it and relieve the Maratha community.