Reaching out to the Marathas, who are protesting against the interim stay on reservation for the community by the Supreme Court, the Uddhav Thackeray-led Maharashtra Cabinet on Tuesday announced a slew of sops targeting the Maratha youth.
Earlier, the SC had stayed the implementation of the Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC) Act granting reservation to Marathas in education and jobs. With this, SEBC as a category has ceased to exist.
In a three-hour-long meeting, the Maha Vikas Aghadi government decided to extend scholarship benefits available till now to those belonging to SEBC – a category constituted in 2018 to provide the Marathas benefits of reservation – to Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) students. These benefits for EWS students will now be made available to the Maratha youth.
The Cabinet approved the decision of extending scholarship benefits under Rajarshi Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj Fees Reimbursement Scheme and Dr Punjabrao Deshmukh Hostel Subsistence Allowance Scheme – which were till now applicable to SEBC – to EWS students. The government has sanctioned Rs 600 crore and Rs 80 crore, respectively, for these schemes in the current financial year.
In other decisions, the Cabinet announced its intention of withdrawing all pending cases against those who had been protesting for Maratha reservation. It added that the process of hiring relatives of all those who had died in the Maratha agitation in government services will be expedited.
State PWD Minister and chairman of the Cabinet sub-committee on Maratha reservation, Ashok Chavan, told mediapersons after the meeting that jobs in Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation will be given to the relatives of those who died in the agitations led by Maratha Kranti Morcha (MKM) during 2016-2018. The proposals will be cleared in a month, he said.
He added that all cases registered against MKM protesters will be withdrawn. “At present, only 26 cases are pending with the government and these will be withdrawn within a month,” Chavan said.
In 2018, the Maharashtra government had enacted the SEBC Act to grant reservation to the Marathas, a politically dominant community, in jobs and education. On July 27, last year, the Bombay High Court had reduced the state approved 16 per cent reservation to 12 per cent in education and 13 per cent in government jobs.
The move was, however, stayed by the SC, which announced an interim stay on the reservation. Following this, the state had on Monday filed an application in the SC seeking vacation of the interim stay on the reservation.
Chavan said the state government is working for a way out. “The SC has made specific mention of jobs and education and new questions have arisen, which are being examined. There are some legal issues and the government is still ready to take a positive decision after examining them,” he added.
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