WITH AN eye on the Assembly polls, the BJP-Shiv Sena government in Maharashtra on Thursday issued orders giving the reservation in education and jobs for the Maratha community a retrospective effect. A government resolution (GR) issued by the chief minister-led general administration department stated that the reservation will be applied from 2014.
On June 27, the Bombay High Court (HC) ruled that the reservation extended by the state government to the community by categorising them as a Socially and Educationally Backward Class (SEBC) was valid. On the basis of the court order, 13 per cent of posts in recruitment for government jobs and 12 per cent of all seats in educational institutions have been reserved for the community.
Justifying the move to give the quota a retrospective effect, the Devendra Fadnavis government on Thursday argued that an ordinance granting 16 per cent reservation to the Marathas had originally been issued on July 9, 2014 by the previous Congress-NCP regime. But on November 14, 2014, the HC, which was hearing a petition against this ordinance, had stayed it.
After coming to power in 2014, the Fadnavis government had first cleared a legislation in this regard. But the recruitment process was again stayed by HC on April 7, 2015. After commissioning a fresh survey to establish the social and educational backwardness of the community, the government had cleared a fresh legislation in November 2018, which has now been held valid by HC.
The GR stated that the new legislation contained provisions clearly enlisting that the selection process, recruitments carried out or in process, and advertisements for the reserved seats brought out as per the old legislation would remain protected. “Since the HC has now upheld the legal validity of the new legislation, these provisions are also legally valid. Accordingly, the process of recruitment carried out under the old act has been protected,” it mentioned.
It ruled that the reservation benefits extended to the community between July 9, 2014, when the initial ordinance was issued, and November 11, 2014, when the court had stayed the implementation, will continue to be in force. Additionally, it also ruled that jobs given to persons from the open category on the now reserved posts following the court’s stay orders in 2014 and 2015 would be withdrawn.
Further, it asked the state departments, semi-government agencies, local bodies and educational institutes to implement the order with utmost urgency.
The Maratha community accounts for about 32 per cent of the state’s population. While the move to provide reservation to the community is paying off for the government, a senior party leader said the key goal for the party, as it heads into the polls, would be to ensure that this does not alienate the OBC votebank it has nurtured since the 1970s.