The Bombay High Court has held that candidates who applied for jobs with the Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Limited (MSEDCL) under the Maratha quota cannot avail of the benefits of reservation under the economically weaker section (EWS) category. In an order passed on Friday, a bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice M S Karnik set aside the MSEDCL’s decision that provided for eligible candidates from the Maratha community, to avail retrospectively, benefits under the EWS quota for civil jobs.
The bench held that the electricity company’s decision which was based on a government resolution (GR) issued by the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government in Maharashtra, was ”illegal and bad in law”.
As per the order, the MSEDCL had advertised for vacancies and invited applications from candidates in August 2019 and provided separate reservations for those belonging to the EWS category, and for those eligible for the socially and educationally backward classes (SEBC) category. The said advertisement, however, had made it clear that the Supreme Court’s decision on the legality of reservation provided by the state government for the SEBC category, which included the Maratha community, was pending.
The advertisement had stated that the selection of the SEBC category candidates will depend on the apex court’s decision.
In the meanwhile, on May 31, 2021, the MVA government issued a GR announcing that SEBC category candidates could avail reservation benefits under the EWS category.
So, while the Supreme Court in November, 2021, struck down Maharashtra’s SEBC Act, the electricity company, interpreted the GR that those SEBC candidates who had qualified for the job, could be considered for appointment to seats reserved for the EWS quota, which were still vacant.
The high court however, said, ”The decision of the State to permit such migration midway through the selection process is arbitrary and unfair.” ”It is declared that the action on the part of the respondents in applying the GRs retrospectively to the selection process is illegal and bad in law,” the court observed.