The Bombay High Court on Wednesday began hearing six petitions challenging the state government’s decision to reserve 90 per cent seats in junior colleges for students who pass the Secondary School Certificate (SSC) examination for Class 10, conducted by the state education board.
The decision, first announced on June 8 and made into law through a government resolution (GR) on June 22, has led to an uproar, since it leaves students taking the corresponding examination held by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) or the Indian School Certificate Examination (ISCE) eligible to compete for just the remaining 10 per cent seats.
While refusing to stay the GR as the petitioners wanted, Chief Justice Swantanter Kumar suggested the government refrain from admitting students into junior colleges for the new academic year till the court gave its verdict.
With the court setting itself a deadline of June 29 for passing orders, the government’s counsel KK Singhvi agreed to start admissions only on June 30.
The government also agreed to allow the petitioners to inspect all the documents on the basis of which the GR had been passed.
The government’s petition has argued that the reservation redresses a major handicap SSC students earlier faced. It maintains that the syllabus and marking system in the SSC and those of other boards differs greatly, giving students of other boards unfair advantage.
“They are unequals and giving the same opportunity to unequals obviously leads to discrimination,” says the affidavit.
It also points out that while 15,608 students in the state took the CBSE and ISCE examination this year, the corresponding number for SSC was 16 lakh.
Critics of the move, however, called it discriminatory and violative of fundamentals rights.