Saturday, July 2, 2011

Supreme Court to hear plea on uniformity in OBC admissions

The Supreme Court on Friday posted to Monday a petition seeking uniformity in the criteria for admission of OBC students to Central universities, including the Delhi and Jawaharlal Nehru universities.

The petition, filed by the former Director of IIT, Chennai, P.V. Indiresan, sought a stay on the September 7, 2010 Delhi High Court order, which said the minimum eligibility criteria for admission under the OBC category would be 10 per cent below the minimum eligibility marks fixed for general category students, and not on the basis of cut-off marks.

The High Court did not accept the contention that the OBCs should be admitted on the basis of marks secured within a bandwidth of 10 per cent below the cut-off marks of the last candidate admitted in the general category. It distinguished between cut-off marks and minimum eligibility marks, and said admission to the OBCs could be done on the basis of eligibility marks — 10 per cent less than what is fixed for the general category.

A vacation Bench of Justices P. Sathasivam and A.K. Patnaik, before whom the matter came up for hearing on Friday, deferred the hearing considering that another Bench headed by Justice R.V. Raveendran had already issued notice on Mr. Indiresan's petition.

The High Court in its order had said: “The OBC candidates, to avail themselves of reservation provided for them under the Central Educational Institutions [Reservations in Admission] Act, 2006, are not required to secure, in the admission test or in the eligibility exam, marks within the bandwidth of 10 per cent below the cut-off marks of the last candidate admitted in the general [unreserved] category.”

Mr. Indiresan assailed the High Court order, contending that it was a complete departure from the October 14, 2008 judgment of a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court that there must be a maximum 10 per cent difference between the cut-off marks of the general category and that of the OBC in admissions. However, justifying the High Court judgment, the Delhi University Reservation Execution Committee and Professor Hany Babu, Department of English, Delhi University, filed an application to implead themselves, pointing out that the impact of providing 10 per cent cut-off marks, viz (the marks of the last student admitted in the general category) would be disastrous, taking away the benefit of 27 per cent reservation for the OBC.

They pointed out that in 2010-2011, out of 7,420 OBC seats in 31 colleges (out of 80) in the Delhi University, only 3,396 seats were filled up and the remaining seats were reverted to the general category.

Since the cut-off marks for general category students were always higher (75 to 85 per cent), OBC students could not meet the cut-off mark fixed for them, though it was 10 per cent less than the cut-off marks fixed for the general category. In terms of percentage, this was only 12 as against the 27 per cent quota reserved for the OBC. Consequently, the general category seats went up from 11, 957 to 16,692 and grants meant for the OBC were utilised for general category students, they said.

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