New Delhi: A petition has been moved before the Supreme Court seeking direction to 23 Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) to adhere to the reservation policy mandated by the government for admissions in research degree programmes and in the recruitment of faculty members, LiveLaw has reported.
The petitioner, Sachchida Nand Pandey, a geothermal energy researcher, alleged that admission of students and faculty recruitment in all IITs have not been in compliance with reservation policy meant for Scheduled Caste (15%), Scheduled Tribes (7.5%) and Other Backward Classes (27%), and hence termed them as “unconstitutional, illegal and arbitrary”.
In November 2019, the Centre had extended reservations to all faculty positions (both associate professors and professors) in all streams across 23 IITs. The 2019 order was in continuation to a June 2018 order where the Centre had written to IIT directors (Kharagpur, Madras, Bombay, Kanpur, Roorkee, and Guwahati) to reserve seats for SC, ST and OBC categories for teaching positions at assistant professor level in science and technology, and at all levels (assistant professor and professor) in humanities and management departments.
The petitioner claimed that in the past five years, the IITs had admitted SCs (9.1%), STs (2.1%) and OBC (23.2%) only in the research scholars’ category, which is also way below the mandated percentages. From 2015 to 2019, IIT Bombay did not admit a single PhD scholar from the ST category in 11 departments and Centre out of 26, the plea said.
The petition also further claimed that while there have been numerous instances of scholars and students at IITs are being harassed, there are no institutional mechanisms to resolve such matters, and to remedy their grievances.
Additionally, the petitioner claimed that IITs do not reveal the standards required for the recruitment of faculty and admission of students, making the whole procedure opaque. The representation of northern, central and Hindi-speaking states is very low in the faculty positions at IITs, while their population nationally accounts for 50%, the plea added.
To resolve faculty recruitment, not adhering to the reservation policy, and to cancel the appointment of non-performing faculty members, the petitioner sought a technical committee of experts be set up.
Last year, an eight-member committee recommended to the Centre that the 23 IITs should be exempted from reservations under the Central Education Institutions (CEI) Act, 2019, and rather than specific quotas, issues of diversity should be addressed through “outreach campaigns and targeted recruitment of faculty”. Ironically, the committee’s mandate was to suggest measures for ‘effective implementation of reservation in admissions and recruitment.