Madras High Court asks Anna varsity why it discontinued two M. Tech courses

Judge grants a day to the university to explain the reason behind its decision not to offer them during the academic year 2020-21

February 03, 2021 01:17 am | Updated 01:18 am IST - CHENNAI

The Madras High Court on Tuesday granted a day’s time to Anna University to explain the rationale behind its decision to not offer M.Tech (Biotechnology) and M.Tech (Computational Biology) courses during the academic year 2020-21 just because there was a dispute between the Centre and the State government in following the reservation policy.

Justice B. Pugalenthi said he was prima facie satisfied that the centrally sponsored courses, being offered for long, could not stopped abruptly much to the disadvantage of students aspiring to join them.

Nevertheless, before passing interim orders on the issue, he decided to give an opportunity to the university to explain the reasons behind its decision.

The observations were made during the hearing of a writ petition filed by 23-year-old R. Chitra of Chennai. Her counsel A. Saravanan brought it to the notice of the court that the petitioner had passed B. Tech (Biotechnology) course with 93.9% marks in 2020. She also appeared for the Graduate Aptitude Test in Biotechnology (GAT-B) and scored 182.5 out of 240 marks.

She was ranked 55 in the unreserved category and was confident of joining either of the two centrally sponsored postgraduate courses offered by Anna University.

However, on January 29, the university suddenly announced that it would not be offering the two courses this year because of a dispute between the State and the Centre over the quantum of reservation.

UGC guidelines

The State government wanted its 69% reservation policy to be followed while admitting students to the course, but the Union Ministry of Science and Technology was adamant on continuing with 49.5% reservation, the lawyer said and said how admission to 45 seats, in both courses put together, could not be filled up because of a dispute between the two governments.

When the judge wondered whether the court could direct a university to conduct courses which it was not inclined to offer, Mr. Saravanan claimed that the University Grants Commission guidelines make it clear that universities established by the State governments were bound to follow the reservation policy of the State in which they were established and not that of the Centre.

“The Centre pays a stipend of around ₹12,000 to the 45 students admitted in both the courses. That would not give it a right to demand that its reservation policy should be followed in admissions when the entire infrastructure required for conducting the courses in the university had been created by the State government,” he argued and pressed for interim orders.

After hearing him at length, the judge directed Anna University counsel Vijayakumar to get instructions by Wednesday.

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