Admissions to 5,000 junior colleges in Maharashtra will finally begin on Friday after the Supreme Court said that the state government should extend its Best-5 policy to ICSE students for this academic year.
College principals predicted that admission cut-offs would rise by two to three percentage points from last year's levels.
“We are relieved that the Supreme Court has given justice to SSC students,” said Balasaheb Thorat, state education minister, adding that admissions would begin in two days after officials make the necessary changes to the software being used for online admissions. The state will announce the schedule on Wednesday.
The admissions process has been delayed by two weeks, so the court’s interim order will bring relief to the state’s 16 lakh SSC and 18,000 ICSE and CBSE students. The court is likely to pass a final judgement in October.
A bench headed by Justice VS Sirpurkar provided details about how the Best-5 scheme would apply to ICSE students: they can choose subjects only from group I and group II, not group III. Subjects in group II are high-scoring, with half the marks coming from internal assessment. The court has also given ICSE students the option of considering all seven subjects.
“We are happy about the verdict,” said Gerry Arathoon, officiating chief executive and secretary of the ICSE board. “But not very happy that subjects from group III will not be counted in the Best-5 percentage.”
Harish Salve, senior counsel for the state argued that admitting ICSE students on the basis of Best-5 would be fair provided they passed maths and science. The ICSE board allows students to drop both maths and science, but the SSC board does not allow this.