The Bombay High Court on Thursday questioned a Maharashtra government resolution which provides reservation for orphan children in employment.
"As far as reservation in educational institutions is concerned, okay. But how can a child be granted reservation in employment?" Chief Justice Dipankar Datta asked.
The division bench of Justice Datta and Justice Abhay Ahuja was hearing a PIL challenging the GR dated August 23, 2021 which provides reservation to orphan children in education and employment.
The petitioner has challenged Category C in the GR which provides for reservation to orphan children, whose parents have passed away, and are living with relatives - with the orphans' caste information known.
The petition contends that this definition of orphan under Category C is not according to the definition of orphan under Section 2(42) of the Juvenile Justice Act (JJ Act).
AGP Rekha Salunkhe informed the bench that the object of the GR is to provide government benefits to "orphaned, destitute children who are in need of care and protection under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015" and do not have caste certificates due to being orphan.
However, the court took exception to the provision of reservation in employment for orphans and pointed out that the GR is specifically for 'orphan children'.
"How can children under 18 years of age be employed? You cannot do that; it is contrary to the law. Are you supporting employment of children under 18 years?" the court asked.
The court granted leave to advocate Metanshu Purandre for the petitioners to amend the petition and challenge the provision of reservation in employment for orphan children.
The petition contends that Catergory C is violative of the JJ Act as section 2(42) of the Act does not include children who have lost their parents but are being raised by relatives.
According to the petition, the children in Category C will be able to avail normal reservation for backward classes as well as the parallel reservation meant for orphan children, who are deprived of government benefits because they don't have caste certificates. Thus, children in Category C have undue advantage, the petition contends.
The petition cites an RTI response from the State and claims there are more beneficiaries of the reservation under category C in various districts rather than the "true deserving" candidates in Category A and Category B, which are in accordance with section 2(42) of the JJ Act.
Therefore, the petition has prayed that the impugned GR be quashed and set aside.
Case no. – PIL/89/2022
Case title – Amruta Karwande and Anr. v. Union of India