Retrospective EWS quota: HC sets aside Maharashtra move

The Bombay High Court on Friday set aside a decision of the erstwhile Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government, which had stipulated that eligible candidates from the Maratha community, retrospectively, could avail benefits under the Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) quota for civil jobs and admissions in education institutes for the year 2020-21. The court termed the decision taken in retrospective manner as illegal.

On June 27, 2019, the HC had upheld the Maharashtra government’s decision to provide reservation to the Maratha community under the Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC) Act, 2018. This was challenged in the Supreme Court. The government had issued a government resolution (GR) on December 23, 2020, after the SC put an interim stay on Maratha reservation on September 9, 2020. Thereafter, in May 2021, the SC struck down Maratha quota.

The EWS quota is open to all those not covered by any other quota and whose family’s annual income is below Rs 8 lakh.

After the SC verdict of last May, the state had issued another GR on July 15, 2021, directing its authorities to confirm appointments recommended under SEBC quota between the HC judgment of June 2019 and the SC stay on quota on September 2020. It had said that the candidates can be provided benefits under EWS quota.

A division bench led by Chief Justice Dipankar Datta on Friday passed a verdict in a bunch of pleas, including those filed by several EWS category candidates who had challenged the December 23, 2020 GR.

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The court also refused petitions filed by Maratha community members for work in Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Limited, which had refused them jobs under the EWS category. Some petitioners, previously covered by SEBC quota had approached the HC saying they be considered for EWS reservation.

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