Mumbai : The higher court in the state on Thursday dismissed a fresh petition filed by students aspiring to study medicine as undergraduates, against allowing Maratha quota for academic year 2019-20. The challenge was essentially to a recent amendment of a 2018 law as being wrongly given a retrospective effect, thus reducing the number of seats available to general category in admission process already underway.
A division bench of the Bombay High court, comprising of Justice SC Dharmadhikari and Justice Gautam Patel was packed with students and their parents. Four students who filed the petition through their lawyer said the quota inclusion for this academic year was unconstitutional.
The counsel of the state, however, justified the government decision and mentioned that the admission process were to commence on November 1, 2018. Last date for filling up online application form was November 30, 2018, the date when the Maharashtra reservation for socially and Educationally Backward Class (SEBC) Act of 2018 came into effect.
The new law provides that the quota will not apply to admissions in educational institutions where admission process has already been initiated before the commencement of the Act. The contentious point revolved around when the “admission process shall be deemed to have initiated.’’ The Act itself provided for ‘an explanation’.
However, on May 20, after Nagpur Bench of Bombay high court held against applicability of 16 percent Maratha seats for medical post-graduate admissions for 2019-20, the state introduced an ordinance to amend the ‘explanation’ by adding section 16(2) (IA) which states that when its admission based on NEET or other national entrance tests for state and private colleges, notwithstanding anything, the admission will deem to have commenced when “the last date for filling up of application form for admission to such courses under state quota to the Admission Regulatory Authority or the Commissioner of State CET is lapsed.’’
The provision, said the students’ petition was enacted to bring in Maratha seats which otherwise would not have been available to them for admissions this year. In June the amendment was made into an Act changing rules for medical colleges admission based on national entrance tests said the students’ plea. The changes were brought in on June 25 with retrospective effect from November 30, 2019. Bringing in an amendment with retrospective effect is to circumvent a May 2, 2019 judgment of Nagpur Bench of Bombay high court and in breach of doctrine of separation of powers, said the petition.
The quota’s inclusion this year would cause a loss to the general category students who had received forms for NEET from November 1, before the law was amended, is their case.