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Maratha quota: Open category students’ appeal to Maharashtra Governor

May 20, 2019
Reject ordinance supporting Maratha quota in PG med admissions

The Maharashtra state cabinet’s decision to promulgate an ordinance protecting the 16 percent reservation for the Maratha community under the Socially and Economically Backward Classes Act, 2018 (SEBC) for post-graduate medical courses is being protested by students from the open category. On Monday 20 May a delegation representing meritorious students petitioned the Governor, C. Vidyasagar Rao’s office to reject the ordinance passed by the Maharashtra government on Friday, 17 April.

Terming the ordinance as ‘draconian’, a written appeal states, “The ordinance is being brought only for political gains. It will affect meritorious students losing college and branch of their choice merely for the unreasonable appeasement policy of the government.”       

The government decided to take the ordinance route to uphold the admissions of 253 postgraduate and dental course students under the Maratha quota. The students who have been on a dharna at Mumbai’s Azad maidan, just a few kilometers from the state secretariat at Nariman point, the city’s central business district propose to continue their protests until the ordinance is actually passes.

The ordinance will also allow the government to bypass a May 9 Supreme Court (SC) judgment that barred the state from implementing the quota from this academic year itself leading to the cancellations of admissions. The 16 percent reservation of seats in government and private educational institutions for Maratha under the SEBC category came into force from November 30, 2018.

This March, the state government issued a notification making the reservation applicable from the current academic year itself.  However, several bachelors of medicine graduates filed petitions against its applicability in the current year saying the admission process for the 2019 PG medical courses had started on 16 October, 2018, before the SEBC Act came into force.

Following several petitions against the notification, the Nagpur bench of the Bombay high court on May 2 had set aside the government’s decision to enforce the quota from this year itself. The court was of the view that the reservation applied to the admissions in post-graduate medical courses was arbitrary since it came into effect after the admission process had already begun.

The court further directed the Directorate of Medical Education and Research (DMER) to re-conduct the entire selection process extending the deadline for the admission process until 25 May. Appealing against the Nagpur bench’s order the government approached the SC but not only was appeal struck down, the SC also slammed it for “messing up the admission process.”

Students from the open category are upset with the state government’s latest decision since of the 700 post graduation across Maharashtra, only 126 seats remain available for meritorious students after the various reservations. While the state’s revenue minister, Chandrakant Patil has assured state government scholarships to open category students taking admissions in private colleges and deemed universities, it is also gearing up for protests and a legal battle against the ordinance by meritorious students.

The government is filing caveats in the Bombay High Court and the SC. The state government has approached the SC to extend the deadline for the medical examination admissions from 25 May to 31 May besides asking for an additional 213 seats to medical courses in the state.     

With the model code of conduct for the Lok Sabha elections in place, the state government had to receive permission from the Election Commission of India (ECI) before it could get cabinet approval for the ordinance.

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