The Bombay High Court on Thursday was irked with the Maharashtra government's persistent stand that the reservation benefits given to orphans cannot be extended to abandoned children. The state should instead be working as a protective umbrella for such kids, it said.
The state government offers one per cent reservation in education to orphaned children.
However, it refused to extend such a benefit to children who have been abandoned by their parents as they are not orphaned as per the definition of the term.
A division bench of Justices Gautam Patel and Neela Gokhale had taken up the issue after a petition was filed by a city-based NGO seeking reservation for two girls, abandoned by their parents.
After being slammed by the court, the government had agreed to provide orphan certificates to the two girls so that they could seek reservation but had clarified that its stand was that there was a difference between orphaned and abandoned children.
Irked with this stand, the court said in every single matter the government operates with contradiction.
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Why this attitude of we have to combat...we have to oppose? When will this government wake up to the realisation that it is not the only one right and is most often wrong, the court said.
The bench also expressed its anguish at the affidavit filed by Sharad Ahire, joint secretary of the Women and Child Development Department, justifying the government's stand.
The bench said the affidavit was scurrilous and reprehensible.
The affidavit had said that parents/guardians abandon or surrender their child intentionally or deliberately to a childcare institute and misuse the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015, so that schooling, boarding, lodging and all other facilities are provided.
The court questioned if the government understood under what dire circumstances a parent abandons a child.
The gender may hinder me from understanding the plight of a mother abandoning a child. Even as a father, it is unimaginable, Justice Patel said.
The court added that the state government ought to act as a protective umbrella for all such children instead of creating a distinction between orphaned and abandoned children.
The court said it would pass its judgment on the issue on March 31.