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Bombay HC seeks state’s response to pleas challenging May 7 GR to scrap reservation in promotion

THE BOMBAY High Court on Tuesday directed the Maharashtra government to file an affidavit in response to petitions challenging its May 7 government resolution (GR), scrapping 33 per cent reservation in promotions for those employed through quotas in Scheduled Castes (SC), Scheduled Tribes (ST), Vimukti Jati and Nomadic Tribes (VJNT) and Special Backward Classes (SBC) categories.

A vacation bench of Justice R D Dhanuka and Justice Madhav J Jamdar was hearing a clutch of petitions pertaining to the May 7 GR. The decision to scrap the nearly two-decade-old policy came two days after the Supreme Court quashed quota for the Maratha community.

The 33 per cent reservation in promotions for SC, ST, VJNT and SBC was introduced on April 25, 2004, by the state through a GR. It gave 13 per cent reservation to SCs, 7 per cent to STs, 3 per cent to Vimukt Jati, 2 per cent to SBC and the rest for VJNT.

Those who joined state government service on April 25, 2004 or before were entitled for promotion as per their seniority. Those joining after April 25, 2004 were to get promotion as per the date of joining. However, the HC struck down the GR in 2017 and the same was challenged in the Supreme Court.

The Maharashtra government had cited the 2017 HC decision in the May 7 GR.

Senior counsel Indira Jaising, representing Sanjay Ghodke who has challenged the May 7 GR, said that the decision will have an impact on the rights of those belonging to reserved categories. “These reservations of 33 per cent existed since 1974, but now in a single stroke, the state has de-reserved all the seats,” she added.

However, the bench said that before passing any orders, the matter is required to be heard at length, as there were several interveners in the case.

After the HC asked senior counsel Mihir Desai, representing Maharashtra, if it proposes to give promotions based on the new GR, he responded in the affirmative.

The court noted, “We make it clear that any promotion, if any that would be made by the state government, pursuant to the interim GR dated May 7 and circular dated May 10 shall be subject to the further orders that would be passed by this court at the stage of admission. The promotees, if any promoted pursuant to those GR and circular, shall be informed about the pending proceedings in this court.”

Directing the state and other respondents to file reply to the pleas within two weeks, the HC posted the next hearing on June 21.

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