“No attempt to lower the merit should be tolerated in academic matters,” ruled the Bombay High Court while quashing the state government’s Best-Five policy last month.
Though the court pronounced the operative order on June 23, a copy of the detailed judgment was put on the HC’s website only on Thursday.
In its 88-page judgment, the court held that the Best-5 policy gave an unfair advantage to SSC students and violated students’ right to equality.
The Best-5 formula provided that SSC students would be admitted to junior college on the basis of the aggregate of highest marks obtained in five out of six subjects. Parents of ICSE students challenged the policy, which was struck down by the HC.
The state government’s appeal challenging the HC order will be heard by the Supreme Court on Monday.
The HC held that the state had “brushed aside the Rule of merit” in implementing the Best-5 policy. “A meritorious student must be allowed to pursue higher studies in an institution, which he chooses on the basis of his marks, percentage and ranking.
Everybody can compete for the best college/institution, irrespective of the educational board to which he belongs, on the basis of his or her merit.”
The HC held that while evolving the Best-5 policy, the state discriminated between students who are similarly placed for admissions to junior colleges.
Acting Chief Justice J.N. Patel and Justice S.C. Dharmadhikari refused to accept the argument that the policy was an attempt to bring uniformity for the disadvantaged SSC students. The judges said that the state had produced no data to prove its argument that all junior college seats in the premier educational institutes of the state would be cornered by non-SSC board students and particularly by the 8,298 ICSE students in the state.
The court held that though the state was empowered to take steps to ease students’ tension and stress, it could not act contrary to the constitutional mandate of equality.