Bombay HC quashes MAT order which barred Maratha candidates from applying in EWS category

 The Bombay High Court on Friday set aside an order of the Maharashtra Administrative Tribunal (MAT) which held that candidates from the Maratha community could not apply for government jobs in the Economically Weaker Section (EWS) category.

Granting relief to Maratha candidates, a division bench of Justices Nitin M Jamdar and Manjusha A Deshpande said the tribunal deviated from established legal principles which led to “cascading effects.”

The court was hearing petitions filed by more than 100 candidates and the state government, challenging the MAT order of February 2023 which said that candidates from the Maratha community can not avail of EWS quota while applying for the posts of sub-inspector/tax assistant and clerk-typist, posts in the forest department and the engineering services, advertised in 2019.

In 2018, the Maharashtra government granted a quota in education and jobs to the Maratha community by enacting the Maharashtra State Reservation for Socially and Educationally Backward Class Act. But the Supreme Court held the Act as unconstitutional.

Government resolutions (GRs) were then issued, allowing the candidates who had originally applied under the SEBC category to apply under the EWS quota for recruitment of various posts advertised in 2019.

The GRs were challenged before the MAT by the other (non-Maratha) candidates who had already applied under the EWS category.

The tribunal upheld the challenge and disqualified those who had initially applied under the SEBC category.

The high court, in its ruling, stated that the state tried to address a one-time situation by allowing a class that, according to it, was prejudiced to compete for the benefits of reservation.

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The tribunal “has not given any specific findings” on how it considers the state’s actions arbitrary, the court said.

“The generalised observations in the impugned (MAT) order that SEBC candidates from the Maratha community scored higher marks imply that they were never entitled to SEBC reservation exceeded the scope of the service dispute and were unnecessary. The impugned order has deviated from established legal principles, leading to cascading effects and negatively impacting a substantial number of candidates,” the bench said, setting aside the tribunal’s order.

The HC order, notably, came amid a renewed agitation for reservation for the Maratha community.

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