Updated: January 21, 2021 7:59:10 am
An affidavit filed by the Maharashtra Public Service Commission (MPSC) in the ongoing Maratha quota case in the Supreme Court triggered a major political storm on Wednesday.
In what is being seen as a major embarrassment for the Uddhav Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government, the MPSC’s application in SC effectively makes a case for proceeding with all pending recruitment processes undertaken by it without taking the Maratha quota into account.
In what has caused serious disquiet even among senior Cabinet ministers, it has come to light that MPSC had kept the government in the dark about its application.
While the MPSC had filed the application on January 16 through its counsel Tapesh Kumar Singh, senior ministers claimed that they did not know about it. Even PWD Ashok Chavan, who heads the Cabinet sub-committee on Maratha reservation, claimed that he was not kept in the loop.
The controversy overshadowed Wednesday’s Cabinet meeting, with ministers demanding action against senior MPSC officials, including the chairman, Satish Gawai – a retired additional chief secretary-rank official.
While the previous Devendra Fadnavis regime had extended 12 per cent reservation in education and 13 per cent in jobs to the Maratha community in 2018, this has been put on hold after the SC, on September 9 last year, passed an interim stay on these reservations.
Facing flak over its handling of the Maratha quota case in the SC, the MVA has been trying hard to assure the community that it will put up a strong defence in favour of the reservation in the court.
On December 23, 2020, the government – in a bid to assuage the community – had announced that during the pendency of the reservation, Maratha students and job aspirants will be entitled to a share in the 10 per cent reservations in both education and jobs applicable to the Economically Weaker Sections.
In its application to the court, the MPSC has sought directions to “revise the final result and merit list of all recruitment processes concluded by the MPSC after November 30, 2018, thereby deleting all the benefits accruing from the implementation of the SEBC Act, 2018 but without disturbing the results of the penultimate stages of the recruitment process result of pre-exam, mains exams”.
It has further asked the court to issue “revised recommendations to the Maharashtra government in this regard” and sought directions for permission to “issue fresh public advertisements including corrigendum to all previously issued public advertisements regarding these recruitment processes”.
Contending that MPSC’s move effectively puts the fate of over 2,185 Maratha candidates, who had qualified the MPSC exams between November 2018 and September 2019 in jeopardy, Maratha outfits started a hunger strike at Azad Maidan in Mumbai.
Sources said that Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray informed his Cabinet colleagues of plans to “initiate action against all those responsible” after it was also pointed out that the MPSC had sought legal opinion from experts who were known to have an anti-quota stance.
While Gawai remained unavailable for comment, sources said that the MPSC had already instructed its counsel – following the controversy – not to pursue the matter and withdraw the application if required. Sources also claimed that the application was necessitated after the government failed to give MPSC clarity on the fate of the Maratha candidates affected by the SC stay.
Lawyers representing the Maratha cause, however, said that the government had already sought clarification to that effect from the SC in the previous hearing, and there was no need for MPSC to file a plea independently.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines