Junior college admissions have been thrown into confusion for the third straight year after the high court struck down the state government’s Best-5 formula on Wednesday.
Following the court’s decision, the government said it had put admissions on hold for two days while it studied the order, intensifying anxiety among all students but especially of the state board because their record-high percentages may now have to be recalculated downwards.
“The formula violates the mandate of Article 14 of the Indian Constitution [guaranteeing citizens equality before the law] and discriminates between similarly situated students,” Acting Chief Justice J.N. Patel and Justice S.C. Dharmadhikari observed in their order.
In a resolution it issued on February 25, the government had said that state board students’ final percentages would be based on the best five subjects that they are tested on.
If the government does not appeal the verdict, admissions will go back to last year’s system and students’ final percentages will be based on all subjects that they are tested on, which is six for SSC, seven for ICSE and five subjects for CBSE students.
In that case, SSC students might be worse off than last year because in anticipation of the Best-5 formula being applied many of them strategically focused on five subjects at the expense of the sixth.
The state has been trying for three years to come up with a formula to give a leg up to state board students, who it believes suffer because the other two boards mark more leniently.
But the court found the policy’s fundamental premise flawed, let alone the specific formula.
“We are sorry to observe that… the state has miserably failed to substantiate that SSC board students are at a disadvantage,” the judges observed.
Two years ago, the government had announced a percentile formula and last year it announced a 90 per cent quota for state board students. The court had struck both down.