Opinion divided; majority of IITs favour common test

A day after the Indian Institute of Technology-Kanpur decided to defy the government's decision to hold a common entrance examination for all Central engineering institutes by announcing a separate admission test for undergraduate courses, the IIT-Delhi has also called for a Senate meeting to adopt its own admission system.

A meeting of the IIT-Delhi Alumni Association held here on Saturday decided to file a public interest litigation (PIL) petition against the joint entrance examination next week and call upon the senior alumni to use their influence and lawful means in getting the decision reversed.

“The meeting applauded the IIT-Kanpur for its decision and reiterated that the Institute Senates were legally empowered to decide and adopt whichever method they wanted to for admissions,'' Somnath Bharti, president of the Alumni Association told The Hindu.

However, the prestigious IITs appear to be divided over the Centre's decision with the IITs at Delhi and Kanpur offering stiff opposition and the remaining five claiming to be on board with the government's proposal.

Criticising the decision taken by the IIT-Kanpur Senate on Friday to hold a separate entrance test, Director of IIT-Guwahati Gautam Barua said he was “surprised” at their “reaction.” “I am sad actually that they have to take this extreme step for such a small matter,” he told a television channel.

“Right now, we are not talking about one common entrance exam. We are basically talking about having a common exam for the NITs, the IITs and the IIITs. Whether this lead to a common exam for everybody, only time will tell,” Mr. Barua said.

Professor Damodar Acharya, Director of IIT-Kharagpur, said the institution did not have any objection to the Centre's move to conduct a common entrance exam for central engineering institutions.

The IIT-Kanpur Senate on Friday described the joint entrance examination “academically and methodically unsound and in violation of the Institutes of Technology Act (1961) and the IIT Kanpur Ordinances [Ordinance 3.2 Admissions].

It also constituted a committee for conducting the JEE 2013 by the IIT-Kanpur. The Undergraduate Admissions Committee will organise the entrance examination and counselling, the resolution said. The committee will coordinate with other IITs to conduct the entrance examination jointly. The Senate resolved to record its forceful dissent of the Council resolution related to JEE.

The Senate's decision has to be endorsed by the Board of Governors and then the IIT Council chaired by the Union Human Resource Development Minister.

However, while the government has not reacted to the developments as the Minister and senior officials are away in the U.S., sources within the Ministry told The Hindu that under the IIT Act, even when regulations of each IIT admissions were to be done, they must be jointly done by all the IITs. Also, under the Act, all matters that are common to all the IITs come under the purview of the Council and not the senate of any one IIT. So the senate resolution is suspect from a legal point of view.

Director of the IIT-Kanpur Sanjay Dhande approved the JEE proposal at the IIT Council, but this was overruled by the Senate. Similar moves are afoot for other IITs, where the Directors have backed the Ministry.

Meanwhile, the All-India IIT Faculty Federation has said: “The decision of the government to go ahead with the common entrance test for the IITs is in the gross violation of the IITs' academic autonomy. We do not understand the intention behind the decision to take the JEE away from the highly successful JEE machinery of the IITs and pass it to some other body.”