HC stays Delhi govt’s move to reserve 50% seats at National Law University
New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Monday stayed the move by the Delhi government to introduce 50% reservation at National Law University, Delhi for students who have passed their qualifying exams in college or institutions located in the city while stating that it was not justified of the University to bypass the governing council and proceed to reserve seats on the strength of the decision of the vice-chancellor of the university.
The Court said that it appeared that NLU, Delhi succumbed to the pressure by the Delhi government without waiting for the recommendations of the committee constituted by the governing council.
It said that once the governing council had decided to constitute a committee to look into the procedure that may be followed on the issue of providing reservation for candidates clearing the qualifying examination from institutes situated in Delhi, there was no occasion to side step the committee and the vice-chancellor could not have decided the issue without approaching the governing council for appropriate sanctions.
The governing council is the plenary authority in the University which formulates and reviews from time to time, the broad policies and programmes of University. The council is the supreme authority of the university comprising of the chancellor (the Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court), the vice-chancellor, who is appointed under the NLU Act. It also comprises of several other members including two sitting Judges of Delhi High Court, chief secretary of Delhi government and chairman of the Bar Council of Delhi.
In an interim order, a bench of Justice Hima Kohli and Justice Subramonium Prasad said that the decision for providing horizontal reservation has been taken by the NLU, Delhi in haste without acting in accordance with the NLU Act.
It directed the NLU, Delhi to issue fresh admission notification before 2nd July and is also directed to publish it on its website. The main matter would be heard on August 18.
The court’s interim judgment comes while hearing a plea by the students of the varsity challenging the decision of the NLU of reserving 50% seats for the students who have passed their qualifying exams in college or institutions in the city.
“We are of the opinion that if the impugned notification is not stayed, grave prejudice would be caused to the students who would be applying for admission in the NLU, Delhi for the academic year 2020-21. In fact, staying the operation of the impugned notification insofar as horizontal reservation of seats for students belonging to Delhi has been provided for the academic year 2020-21, would result in inviting a larger section of students,” the bench said.
The court also said that the Governing Council had constituted a Committee under the Chairmanship of Justice NV Ramana, Judge, Supreme Court, which included Chief Secretary, Delhi government and Secretary, Higher Education, Government of Delhi and the Registrar, NLU, Delhi. It said that this Committee was to examine the entire issue and forward its recommendations to the Governing Council.
The bench said, that however nothing is placed on record to demonstrate that any recommendation was placed before the Governing Council, which is the only body is constituted to take decisions on all important matters relating to the University and its functioning.
“Status quo ante as of the previous academic year shall be maintained for making admissions to the BA LL.B (Five Year Programme) and LL.M (One Year Programme) in NLU, Delhi, for the academic year 2020-21. NLU is directed to issue a public notice on or before July 2, informing the public at large about the decision taken above and granting a further period of one week from the date of issuance of public notice to enable interested candidates to submit their applications for admission.
“The redrawn schedule will not interfere with the entrance examinations that are to take place in August 2020 The order passed shall also be uploaded on the website of the NLU, Delhi forthwith,” the bench said in a 23-page judgment.
Appearing for the petitioners, senior advocate Neeraj Kishan Kaul and advocate Nipun Saxena, told the court that varsity’s move was unconstitutional since providing 22% reservation to OBC and 10% reservation to EWS category without increasing the total number is against the mandate of guidelines issued by Ministry of Human Resource and Development (MHRD).
Ramesh Singh, Delhi government standing counsel, had contended that the decision to introduce reservation contended that NLU Delhi is not a Central institute of excellence and it is only a state university that came into existence on the basis of the Act enacted by the Delhi legislature. It was also contended that no student who intends to apply for admission in NLU, Delhi has challenged the notification or the admission prospectus and the reservation which is being extended to regional students will not prejudice the interests of the petitioners and, therefore, the said petition should be dismissed on the ground of maintainability.