Legal Correspondent

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday issued notice to the Centre and the University Grant Commission on a petition challenging the policy of extending reservation for the Other Backward Classes to faculty posts in the Indian Institutes of Technology, the Indian Institutes of Management, the Jawaharlal Nehru University and the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences. A Bench consisting of Chief Justice K. G. Balakrishnan and Justices P. Sathasivam and J.M. Panchal issued the notice on the petition from Citizens for Equality contending that implementation of reservation in posts at the level of associate professor and professors would amount to diluting teaching standards to accommodate the political mandate.

“State onus ignored”

Senior counsel K. K. Venugopal, appearing for the petitioner, said these measures were sought to be substantiated solely on the principle of amelioration of the backward classes while ignoring the onus on the state to develop centres of research excellence and merit.

The petitioner said the measures adopted by the government as well as the Central grant-in-aid institutions to introduce and further reservation in the faculty posts up to and including the professorial level were reprehensible. The JNU, which was an institution based purely on merit and excellence, should now dilute its high standards to accommodate the political mandate.

The petitioner questioned the UGC direction to implement 27 per cent reservation for the OBCs in all grant-in-aid-institutions, except minority institutions, funded by the Centre.

There could be no quota in institutions of excellence in research and super-specialisation, where the sole criterion was merit.

Stop the juggernaut

Unless the reservation juggernaut was stopped at least at the portals of faculty positions, it would continue to roll unchecked, steered all the while by one political faction or another, leading to a mediocre and sub-standard education system, the petition said and sought a direction to quash the UGC direction.

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