Mumbai: The decision on the hearings of the petitions on the introduction of Maratha quota in Medical admissions in the state is now finally going to reach a conclusion with the HC concluding the hearing and reserving its judgement on the matter
The pleas had been filed by non-Maratha quota students who had sought a stay on Socially and Educationally Backward Class (SEBC) reservations for PG medical admissions for the academic year 2019-20.
Yesterday, the Bombay High Court had concluded the hearing on a bunch of petitions filed both in opposition and support of the Maharashtra government’s decision to grant 16 per cent reservation for the Maratha community in jobs and education in the state.
A bench of Justices Ranjit More and Bharati Dangre, which heard the petitions, reserved its verdict on the issue. The bench had been conducting daily hearings on the petitions since February 6.
Medical Dialogues had been extensively reporting about the reservation issues in Post-Graduate (PG) Medical admissions that continued to upset meritorious MBBS pass outs in the state.
As of now, in Maharashtra, 50 % of medical seats in government-run medical colleges are for reserved category (SC/ST/OBC/ VJNT). Out of the other 50% which is known as the open category; 14% of seats go to Persons with Disability (PwD), defence and other quotas. There is also a special quota (depending on eligible candidates) for students from the reserved categories who are eligible for an open quota seat based on their scores, ranging from 3%-5%.
In addition, with the earlier announcement that educational institutions will offer the Economically Weaker Section (EWS) quota in the general category, 10% has been fixed for medical students related to EWS category.
On November 30 last year, the Maharashtra Legislature passed a bill proposing 16 per cent reservation in education and government jobs for the Marathas, declared Socially and Educationally Backward Class (SEBC) by the government and hence it decided to grant them the reservation.
Further, the implementation of 16% Maratha quota was done which left a meagre 5 % for candidates vying medical admission on merit basis.
This “policy” indeed created a stir in the admission process. The medical students, who can only take admission via merit, are anxious since there is, evidently, tough competition in medical admissions and with over 16 % quota gulping over the merit quota, the competition has become tougher than ever.
With the Maratha quota, the total reservation in jobs and education in Maharashtra under various heads stands at 68 per cent, way above the Supreme Court-fixed limit.
Noting the meagre percentage of seats, the PG medical aspirants had filed various petitions with the HC, which after considering the number of pleas had earlier directed that no admission will take place until the court announces order regarding the implementation.
The petitioners, in their pleas challenging the quota, had said that no state government could exceed the 50 per cent mark in reservations.
During the course of hearing since weeks, the government maintained before the HC that the Maratha quota and creation of the new category was legal and valid.
At the recent hearing, all the lawyers for the state maintained the Maratha quota was necessary, and the measure was based on the recommendations of the Justice M B Gaikwad Backward Class Commission.
The commission, they said, had recommended reservations for the Marathas who comprise a third of the state’s population, for education and public employment.
Therefore, even if the new category took reservations in the state beyond 50 per cent, the same was permitted under the powers vested to the state by the Constitution for the betterment of the downtrodden, they argued.
Special counsel for the state government, V A Thorat, argued that the petitioners, one a second-year medical student and the other one who had passed only higher secondary, could not be allowed to seek a stay on reservations, especially given that the Socially and Educationally Backward Class Act of 2018 was in force.
TOI reports that former advocate general S G Aney, arguing for a stay on the quota implementation for 2019-20, argued that the admission process had begun before the law was notified in November and Section 16 (2) of the SEBC Act, the legality and constitutional validity of which is under challenge, provides that it would not apply where the admission process has already been initiated before the coming into force of the act. The high court accepted the state submissions that admissions would be subject to the final outcome of the challenge to the validity of the act.
While these arguments were supported by a bunch of petitions, others, represented by former Advocate General Shrihari Aney and advocate Pradeep Sancheti, among others, opposed the quota.
These petitioners argued that the commission report was based on “unsound” findings. They also argued the Marathas were not socially backward.
It was also argued that the Marathas historically belonged to the warrior class and most of them presently held government jobs or were employed in the Army.
They also argued the Maratha quota was in breach of a previous apex court judgement that prescribed an upper limit of 50 per cent for caste and community-based quota, adds PTI.