In a U-turn, the Gujarat government on Saturday withdrew a notification issued a day ago suspending the 10 per cent quota for Economically Backward Classes in the general category in jobs and educational institutes.
Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel told reporters on Saturday that the notification which the government issued on Friday was “confusing and so we have decided to withdraw it.”
The government had declared reservation of 10 per cent in government jobs and educational institutions for the economically backward classes among the higher castes through an Ordinance in May following a pitched agitation by the Patidars that lasted over nine months.
The decision was struck down by Gujarat High Court in August, calling it unconstitutional and this was upheld by the Supreme Court. After the government challenged the decision, the apex court had referred it to a larger bench. The admissions, which were already given in educational institutions under this quota, was allowed, but the process for any new admissions was frozen.
The notification issued on Friday said the 10 per cent EBC quota had been kept in abeyance. The Supreme Court had referred the issue to a five-judge Constitution Bench in its interim order of September 9. It also said that admissions given to the students under EBC quota before August 8 would not be cancelled, but there would not be any further admissions under the quota. Similarly, any recruitment process in the government also remains on hold.
Though the government brought a new notification overriding the one first made on Friday, thereby indicating that the quota decision stands, the implementation of the 10 per cent in any case remains on hold till the larger Supreme Court bench does not decide the case.
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In a major effect, the entire process of recruitment for 62,000 government jobs which was declared as the biggest exercise by the BJP dispensation this year also remains on hold. Not only EBCs, all other appointments would have to wait till the entire matter is settled.
The notification of keeping EBC quota in abeyance drew sharp reactions from Patel leaders. Patel quota agitation leader Hardik Patel accused the government of misleading the three crore upper caste population of Gujarat. He reiterated the 10 per cent quota “was a lollipop”. The government then withdrew the notification.