Supreme Court Order on Faculty Quota Could See Reduction in SC, ST and OBC Teachers

Reservation in university faculty positions will be calculated department-wise and not by taking the total seats in a university as basis.

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld the Allahabad high court order which ruled that reservation in university faculty positions should be calculated department-wise and not by taking the total seats in a university as basis.

A bench comprising Justices U.U. Lalit and Indira Banerjee rejected the Centre’s special leave petition (SLP) challenging the April 2017 order of the Allahabad high court. The decision could see a reduction in the number of SC, ST and OBC teachers in universities.

The ministry of human resources development filed an SLP in April 2018 after the University Grants Commission’s (UGC) March 5 order created a political furore. The order said the number of reserved faculty posts across universities and colleges would be calculated department-wise and not based on the aggregate vacant posts. It was based on the Allahabad high court’s verdict.

This method would reduce the number of reserved category seats, defeating “the object of implementing the reservation policy”, the Centre argued.

Although the UGC order was not withdrawn, the Centre asked all universities to put recruitment on hold until the apex court pronounces a verdict on the SLP. A Bill drafted by the HRD Ministry to overturn the UGC order was sent it to the Cabinet, but is waiting its approval.

Also Read: How JNU Administration is Scuttling Reservation and Academic Freedom

The Allahabad high court’s judgment said if a university is considered as the unit for every level of teaching and the roster applied, some departments/subjects may have just reserved candidates and other just unreserved candidates. This would be violative of Article 14 and 16 of the Constitution, the court said. It quashed Clauses 6 (c) and 8 (a) (v) of the UGC guidelines. The two clauses held that posts should be grouped together and implementation of the roster system.

Appearing for the Centre, solicitor general Tushar Mehta said under Article 16(4) of the Constitution, the government must make special provisions for reservation in appointments if the Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe employees were not adequately represented in the services.

According to the Indian Express, the government contended that if the reservation policy is implemented by taking each department/subject as a unit, instead of the university, several departments of a university would have ‘single post cadres’ (one professor in a given department). This would remain outside the purview of the reservation law.

“Appearing for the respondent, advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan pointed out that the Supreme Court, in a January 2017 decision in the Sanjiv Kumar vs State of UP and Others, upheld the validity of another April 2009 decision of the Allahabad High Court — in Dr Viswsajeet Singh and Others vs State of UP and Others — which also said that “the rules of reservation and roster shall be applied collegewise and subjectwise when there are plurality of post,” the Indian Express reported.

Experts told the Indian Express that under the new formula, departments with two or more faculty posts, but less than 15 in a cadre, will have only one reserved for an SC candidate at serial number 7 and for an ST candidate at serial number 14. If a department has only six associate professor-level posts, none will be reserved for SC and ST candidates. The reservation policy would only be implemented through rotation, which could take years.

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