Higher and Technical Education Minister Vinod Tawde announced on Wednesday that caste validity certificate for the Socially and Economically Backward Class (SEBC) category students was not mandatory for admissions to engineering and other professional courses.Mr. Tawde made the announcement in the Assembly when Jayant Patil (Nationalist Congress Party) raised the issue after question hour.The move will benefit hundreds of students from the Maratha community, declared as socially and educationally backward class by the government.“The meeting of the admission controlling authority was held on Wednesday morning under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. The issue of caste validity certificate for the newly-created SEBC was discussed during the meeting. There was a shortage of staff for providing the caste certificates. As a result, if a student from SEBC category has already applied for caste certificate, then it will not be mandatory on the student to submit the caste validation certificate,” he said.Mr. Tawde informed that this will be applicable to engineering and other professional courses, the admission process for which has already started for the academic year 2019-2020. The SEBC category, he said, is not a part of the Maharashtra Scheduled Castes (SC), Scheduled Tribes (ST), De-notified Tribes (DNT), Nomadic Tribes (NT), Other Backward Classes (OBC), Special Backward Category (Regulation of Issuance and Verification of) Caste Certificate Act, 2000.“Hence, caste validity certificate for SEBC category students should not be insisted till further instructions. For non-SEBC students, there will be relaxation as per the Supreme Court directives,” Mr. Tawde said. While the Bill proposing 16 % reservation in education and government jobs for Marathas was passed by the Assembly in November last year, it was passed unanimously in the Council last week.