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New Delhi:

The Maharashtra government on Monday informed the Supreme Court that it has taken a decision that no fresh recruitment will be made till September 15 against the backdrop of Covid-19 pandemic.

A bench comprising Justices L. Nageswara Rao, Hemant Gupta and S. Ravindra Bhat then deferred the hearing on the validity of reservations for the Maratha community to September 1, after the state government cited the May 4 government order freezing recruitment.

The apex court also declined to intervene in the postgraduate medical admission process due on July 31, and indicated that it may pass an order on the undergraduate medical admission process.

The observation from the apex court came during the hearing of pleas challenging the Maratha reservation, which takes reservation in the state over the 50 per cent ceiling.

The apex court was scheduled to begin daily hearing on the pleas challenging the validity of the 12 per cent quota for the Maratha community in jobs and admissions to educational institutions. It would now take up applications raising preliminary issues on August 25.

The main contention of the pleas challenging the Maratha reservation issue is that it breaches the 50 per cent ceiling put by the apex court in its landmark Indra Sawhney verdict.

On July 15, the apex court said it will begin day-to-day hearing from July 27 through video conferencing on a clutch of pleas challenging reservation for Marathas, which was brought in through the Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC) Act, 2018.

The apex court said the parties involved in the matter should sit together and decide on modalities of hearing, where they could sort out which party would take how much time for the argument, and there should not be repeat arguments.

It declined to pass any order for interim stay on the quota and cited that chances of a resumption of the physical court look remote.

Senior advocate Shyam Divan, representing some of the petitioners, contended before the bench that this type of a case should be heard in a physical court and there is tremendous urgency in the matter. “We may also need to revisit the concept of interlocutory relief…. there is a whole group of postgraduate students who have their careers at risk,” he argued.

Divan argued that 12 to 13 per cent reservation, which is a huge chunk, has been taken away, and is the High Court not bound by the order of the apex court, when a nine-judge bench already ruled that quotas should not exceed 50 per cent.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal contended before the bench that there is 10 per cent economic weaker section reservation too, and this also requires a hearing.

Justice Rao replied if it needs to be considered, then the bench will do so.

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