In a significant ruling, the Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court has held that the Maharashtra government should first consider its own citizens while granting reservations. The High Court said that those who migrate from another state cannot claim any right to consideration for reservations here.
A bench of Justices Sanjay Gangapurwala and Avinash Gharote said, "The provisions of law clearly indicate that the state is enjoined to take care of its citizens first, before affording or extending the benefit of reservation to outsiders."
The judges were dealing with a plea filed by two women from Nanded, both belonging to a reserved caste, who were elected as presidents of local municipal councils. However, the local scrutiny committees invalidated their caste certificates and this increased their chances of getting disqualified as the president of the municipal councils.
Both the women, originally from Hyderabad, had come to Maharashtra after their marriage. They accordingly claimed their right to reservation here.
"In certain circumstances, considering the original citizens for reservation may lead to denial of benefit of reservation to a person, as in the case of migration due to marriage, in which the lady has to shift to the residence of her spouse and thus cannot go back to her State of origin. But where the residence of the spouse is in another State, granting such a migrant the benefit of reservation would result in denying the benefit to an original resident of the State of migration. This clearly would not be permissible, even under Articles 15 and 16 of the Constitution," the judges held.
The bench noted that the language of Articles 15 and 16, in fact, enjoins the states not to discriminate and provide equal opportunity to its citizens, "but this naturally and logically, would mean citizens of the state and not otherwise," the judges ruled.
The bench, however, said that the state has powers to make any special law for uplift of any socially, educationally and economically backward classes, to mean every migrant to the state, irrespective of the date of migration. "Thus, the state would equally be competent to frame a law and to specify a cutoff date, to determine, as to whom such provisions for reservations, would apply and be available," the bench noted.
Further, while referring to the Caste Certificate Rules of 2003 and 2012 regarding issuance of caste certificates and their validation, the bench said, "The rules specifically mandate that caste certificate holder who has migrated to the state of Maharashtra from the state of his origin, for the purpose of seeking education, employment etc. shall not derive any benefit from/in Maharashtra. Thus a prohibition has been imposed upon a migrant to seek any benefit available on account of reservation in the state of migration," the judges ruled, while dismissing the petitions.