The Bombay High Court, Aurangabad Bench held on Saturday, December 19, 2020, that students belonging to the Maratha caste can avail the benefit of reservation afforded to Economically Weaker Section (EWS) provided they give an undertaking not to claim any other reservation, either vertical or horizontal, except EWS category for education purpose in the case of Vaishnavi Wadje vs. State of Maharashtra & Ors (WP No. 8436 of 2020) and 7 other such similar petitions filed before the Court.

The student petitioners were compelled to approach the High Court after the Tahsildar refused to grant EWS certificate to them due to which they could not complete the admission process. Towards this end, Justices SV Gangapurwala and SD Kulkarni of the Aurangabad Bench directed the Tahsildar at Aurangabad not to deny EWS certificate to the student petitioners merely because they belong to the Maratha caste which is categorised as a Socially and Educationally Backward Community (SEBC).

The order said, “The Tahsildar, Aurangabad shall consider if the petitioners are entitled for EWS certificate, then shall issue the same immediately. Naturally, the petitioners will have to prove before the Tahsildar that they belong to economically weaker section then only would be entitled for EWS certificate.”

The Court noted that Maratha caste was categorised as Socially and Educationally Backward Class (SEBC) and a government resolution of July 28, 2020 passed by the Maharashtra government explicitly stated that a person from reserved category cannot apply under EWS. However, the Court also took into account the fact that Supreme Court had, on September 9, 2020 stayed the reservation to Maratha caste till the validity of Maharashtra State Reservation for Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC) Act, 2018 was decided by a larger Bench of the top court.

The High Court, therefore, ordered Tahsildar to grant EWS certificate to the petitioners if they can prove that they are eligible for the same.

The Court ruled that, “If the petitioners are issued with the EWS certificates in the State format and undertaking is filed by the petitioners that during the entire educational career, they would not claim benefit of any reservation, either vertical or horizontal except EWS category, then the petitioners be considered for admission from EWS category.”

In the light of the judgement, the Aurangabad Bench directed educational institutes to consider admissions of the petitioners if they submit EWS certificates and an undertaking to not take benefit of any other reservation category for educational purpose.