The fresh move to offer quota to the other backward classes (OBC) in the faculties of the Central government-aided institutions like IIT, IIM, JNU and AIIMS has hit a roadblock in the Supreme Court. Recent advertisements issued by the Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi University and Allahabad University inviting applications from OBC candidates for the post of lecturers triggered fresh debate on the issue.
A Supreme Court bench, headed by Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan, on Tuesday issued notices to the HRD ministry and the University Grants Commission (UGC) seeking their response to a petition filed by Citizens for Equality, an NGO, which contended that reservations for OBC in the faculty would affect the teaching standards.
The petition sought to quash the UGC guide- lines for implementing 22 per cent reservation for SCs/STs at the levels of Associate Professor and Professor. It also asked for an appropriate directive in place of the UGC's that provides for a 27 per cent quota for the OBC for the posts of lecturers.
Besides, the petition appealed for quashing of the JNU's decision to implement UGC's reservation policy Speaking for the NGO, Senior advocate K.K. Venugopal said the government measures were "substantiated solely on the principle of amelioration of the backward classes" ignoring the onerous responsibility placed on the state to develop centres of excellence and merit.
He added the decision amounted to the violation of fundamental rights guaranteed under Article 14 (right to equality) and Article 16 (equality of opportunity in matters of public employment). Venugopal said the reservation policy adopted by the Centre and the UGC permitting quotas in aided institutions - excluding the minority institutions - "permits those who are not qualified to take up teaching positions purely on the basis of caste."
The court said minimum standards were prescribed for appointment in teaching positions with more stringent procedures for special courses. Venugopal said introducing reservation in institutions like the JNU would be reprehensible since the university is functioning purely on merit and excellence. "It would not only breach the principles of equality, but also grievously harm the high standards of education that is maintained at these elite institutions," he added.