TAMIL NADU

State to continue with CET

SHIMOGA Jan. 28. The Minister for Higher Education, G. Parameshwar, reiterated on Tuesday the Government's decision to continue with the CET (Common Entrance Test) system for admissions to professional courses.

After attending the 13th annual convocation of the Kuvempu University, he told presspersons at Shankarghatta, about 30 k.m. from here that the Government had held two rounds of discussions with managements of private professional colleges (once in the presence of the Chief Minister, S.M. Krishna) to convince them to part with 50 per cent of seats to the Government while retaining the remaining seats with them.

He said that the Supreme Court order with regard to admission, fee structure, and administrative matters ``lacked clarity''. He said the Government wanted to resolve the issue amicably with managements, as its concern was to protect the interest of students.

Stating that if the State Government gave an impression that it had taken a "soft stand" on the issue it was not without reason, Dr. Parameshwar said it did not want to get entangled with one more protracted legal battle in the Supreme Court. He cited the example of the legal tangle between the Kerala Government and the private college managements of that State over the allocation of seats.

Dr. Parameshwar said the Government had decided not to file a review petition over the Supreme Court order considering that it might lead to the delay in the settlement of the issue. He pointed out that the judgment in the original case was given 11 years after the case was filed by the Government in the T.M.A. Pai and others vs. Karnataka Government case over the sharing of seats in professional courses. In fact, there was no difficulty for the Government to file the review petition as the original petition was filed by itself in the Supreme Court.

Admitting that there was no consensus among the private managements over sharing of seats with the Government, he said while the managements of new institutions offered to give more than 50 per cent seats some were reluctant to allot even 50 per cent to the Government, arguing that they would like to implement the Supreme Court order strictly.

Dr. Parameshwar said the committee, set up under the chairmanship of the Additional Chief Secretary to the Government, J.P. Sharma, had made an important recommendation that apart from allotting 50 per cent the seats to the Government, another 25 per cent more seats selected through CET be allotted to the Government.

Asked if the managements agreed to this, he said he was confident of bringing them around to the Government's line of thinking. "The interest of students will be protected at any cost through the CET," he said and added that a final decision would be announced by the middle of February.

To a question, he said the services of part-time lecturers, who had passed the NET (National Eligibility Test), would be regularised soon and those who had not taken the NET would be given three years to pass it. The objection raised by the Finance Department for the regularisation of part-time teachers had been referred to the Law Department.

Although the question of introducing CET training cells at taluk and hobli levels, as mooted by the Minister of State for Primary Education, B.K.Chandrasekhar, was under consideration, it would be decided only after the issue of sharing of seats was settled.

When his attention was drawn to the declining interest among students to study basic sciences, he said he was aware of the problem. The Government had taken several steps to retain students' interest in basic sciences by introducing scholarships and allowing the universities to fill nearly 800 backlog vacancies and also allowing the government-aided and unaided colleges to fill equal number of backlog vacancies on priority.

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