Maharashtra Govt Extends EWS Quota to Marathas After SC Ruling
Maratha community leaders have registered their dissatisfaction with the government’s decision.
The Maharashtra government on 31 May, Monday, passed a resolution to incorporate the Maratha community in the 10 percent quota for Economically Weaker Sections (EWS).
Presently, families who have a gross annual income of Rs 8 lakh or less are eligible for the EWS quota, provided that they are not protected by caste or any other reservation.
A government order instating the policy for the Maratha community, which had been categorised as a Socially and Economically Backward Class (SEBC), was released by the General Administration Department (GAD), as per an Indian Express report.
The announcement comes after the Supreme Court struck down the Maharashtra State Reservation for Socially and Educationally Backward Classes Act of 2018, which granted reservation to the Maratha community in early May.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray had termed the decision as “unfortunate” and had said that legal battle for the reservations for the community would continue till there is "victory".
What Does the Quota Entail?
Maratha community members having an annual family income of less than Rs 8 lakh can now avail the benefits of the EWS quota, as per the order by the Maha Vikas Aghadi government.
The aid will be applicable in retrospective effect, for the period of the interim stay on the Maratha reservation by the Bombay High Court on 9 September 2020, to the Supreme Court’s scrapping of the quota on 5 May 2021.
Under the newly issued government order, 6,000 youth belonging to the Maratha community will be provided government jobs.
The process of enrolling the aforementioned 6,000 youth in government services had been initiated earlier but had to be put on hold on 9 September 2020, after the reservation provision was stayed by the Supreme Court.
The new resolution seeks to accommodate these previously made appointments. The hitherto paused recruitment process for the same will now be completed under the EWS scheme.
Response of Maratha Leaders
Maratha community leaders have registered their dissatisfaction with the government's decision.
According to a Hindustan Times report, Rajendra Kondhare, General Secretary, Akhil Bharatiya Maratha Mahasangh, indicated that all caste groups not covered under separate reservations are automatically eligible for the EWS quota, rendering the government order to this purpose null.
Further, the leader stated that the government had provided the community members with the option to apply for jobs or education within the EWS category after the Supreme Court's decision – an opportunity if availed, would disqualify the community members from availing benefits of the SEBC Act, if it is reinstated in the future.
He also contended that the Maratha community will receive a low share of the EWS quota, as the benefits are split between many other communities.
Kondhare suggested that the state's announcement was a mere farce purposed to pacify the disgruntled Maratha community, and to demonstrate that the government was doing something to help.
Response of the Opposition
Chandrakant Patil, President of BJP Maharashtra, said that the state government was escaping the commitments it had made to the Maratha community by depriving them of the earlier promised 12 percent and 13 percent reservation in the SEBC category.
He indicated that the state government had the time till 7 June to deliberate on the issue and submit a review petition in the Supreme Court.
Janata Dal (United) party leader KC Tyagi also marked his disapproval of the government's order. "What the Maharashtra government is trying to do is to make two sections – EWS and the Marathas – fight with each other. This is not good,” Tyagi told The Indian Express.
The Maharashtra state government has also appointed a high-level committee under Justice Dilip Bhosale, a retired High Court judge, to examine the Supreme Court's decision and suggest plausible recourses. The committee has been given time till 7 June to present its report.
(With inputs from The Indian Express and The Hindustan Times.)
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