A day after the Maharashtra General Administration Department (GAD) said reservation for Marathas in education and jobs will also be applicable to those who had applied for it between July 9 and November 14, 2014, the Supreme Court Friday made it clear that the quota cannot be applied with retrospective effect.
Declining to stay the Bombay High Court order which last month upheld the constitutional validity of the quota for the Maratha community, the bench of Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose said “we will examine” the matter and issued notice to the Maharashtra government.
In Mumbai, GAD Secretary Shivaji Daund said: “Today’s statement by the SC will not have any bearing on the GR (government resolution) that was issued yesterday. Yesterday’s GR was issued to safeguard the rights of individuals who had applied when the earlier ordinance was in effect.”
State Higher Education Minister Vinod Tawde said: “The Act is not being implemented with retrospective effect. Only those who had applied during the time when the earlier ordinance was in force till the High Court struck it down will be accommodated.”
The bench was hearing two appeals, including one filed by J Laxman Rao Patil, challenging the June 27 order of the High Court that upheld the validity of The Maharashtra State Reservation (of seats for admission in educational institutions in the State and for appointments in the public services and posts under the State) for Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC) Act, 2018.
The High Court, however, ruled that the 16 per cent quota granted by the state was not “justifiable” and reduced it to 12 per cent in education and 13 per cent in government jobs, as recommended by the Maharashtra State Backward Class Commission (MSBCC).
On Friday, senior advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan, appearing for one of the petitioners, referred to the state government’s decision to apply the quota law with retrospective effect and sought a stay on it. But the CJI declined to grant the relief, saying “should we blindly stay it?… So we have issued some order”.
Justifying its decision to push the quota law with retrospective effect, the Devendra Fadnavis government had argued that an ordinance granting 16 per cent reservation to the Marathas had originally been issued on July 9, 2014 by the then Congress-NCP government. But on November 14, 2014, the High Court, which was hearing a petition against this ordinance, had ordered a stay.
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 the High Court on April 7, 2015. After commissioning a fresh survey to establish the social and educational backwardness of the community, the government cleared a fresh legislation in November 2018, which was held valid by the High Court last month.