Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Thursday sought reply from Maharashtra government while questioning it regarding its circular that provides reservation in employment for orphan children.
A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Abhay Ahuja observed, “Anyone below 18 years cannot be employed. Can a child be made to work? That means you are promoting child labour.”
The HC was hearing a PIL by two activists, Amruta Karwande and Rahul Kamble, seeking quashing a Government Resolution (GR) issued in August 2021 by the Women and Child Welfare Department that divided orphans between 0-18 years into three categories to avail 1 % reservation in education and employment.
However, the bench pointed out that the GR made reservations in employment for orphans and questioned the petitioners as to why did not challenge it. “Can a contract be signed with a minor?” asked CJ Datta.
Advocate Reena Salunkhe, appearing for the government, said that the GR's object was to enable orphan children avail concessions.
According to the PIL, the first category comprises orphan children with no information about parents, siblings, relatives, caste etc and who are brought up by child care home/orphanage. The second category includes children whose parents have died but whose relatives are alive, caste is known and they are brought up in an orphanage. The third where parents have died, are brought up by relatives and their caste is known.
The petitioners acquired information under the Right to Information which showed that the third category availed maximum benefits in most districts. The plea contended that the third category availing benefits of orphan as well as backward classes reservations has resulted in inequality.
The plea seeks that the third category be quashed. It also urges the court that guidelines be framed in consonance with the Act so that “true deserving orphans candidates can seek benefit only through the orphan reservation and not other categories.”