The Union Human Resources Development Minister, Kapil Sibal, on Tuesday said any decision on the eligibility criteria to appear in Indian Institutes of Technology – Joint Entrance Examinations (IIT-JEE) exam will have to be taken by an IIT committee and that it was not a decision that was within the government's “jurisdiction”.

"The eligibility criteria to appear in the JEE is decided by IITs themselves," Mr. Sibal said.

Moreover, "the government of India has no role to play and any report which suggests that there is a proposal to allow only those who obtain 80 per cent marks in their class 12 examination to sit for JEE is baseless,” the Minister added.

Mr. Sibal made these remarks while reacting to reports that he had mooted a minimum of 80 per cent to 85 per cent marks in class 12 exams for those wanting to appear in the entrance test for IITs after a meeting of the IIT Council on Monday (Oct. 19).

“The only decision that has been taken by the IIT Council is that the IITs will submit a report in January, 2010 to rationalise the JEE. It is entirely their decision to decide on the eligibility criteria. It is they who will consider weightage is to be given to the class 12 examination”, he said.

Reply to Nitish Kumar

He said the government had “no jurisdiction in the matter and the HRD Ministry can in no way, either directly or indirectly, decide or make any proposal for a decision.”

The reports also triggered a missive from Bihar Chief Minister, Nitish Kumar, who wrote to Mr. Sibal opposing any such possible proposal by his ministry.

Replying to Kumar’s letter, Mr. Sibal has said the “alleged proposal” is “non existent”.

“I, therefore, would like to set at rest your concerns by stating that there is no such proposal as referred to in your letter,” the Minister wrote in his letter.

Mr. Sibal further wrote that “the question of promoting students of elitist background and discriminating against students belonging to the weaker sections of society is entirely misconceived.

“The Congress party has always stood for equity in all government process and decision-making. All examinations must and should be inclusive”.