UGC’s Faculty Reservation Ordinance approved by Cabinet in last meeting before polls

New Delhi. Mar 7: The much awaited ordinance on faculty reservations in government universities and institutes was approved by the Cabinet in the very last meeting before the country goes into elections. The approval finally settles the issue of calculation of reservations in faculty positions which had remained uncertain since April 2017. The ordinance upholds University Grants Commission’s (UGC) 200 point reservation roster in place of the 13 point roster which had been directed by the courts. The 200 point roster considers an entire university or college as a single unit while calculating reservations as against the 13 point roster wherein a single department is taken as the unit for calculation.

The Supreme Court had dismissed the Centre’s petition on the matter a few days ago

The matter of reservations in faculty positions gained wide attention when irregularities in recruitments at the Banaras Hindu University (BHU) were pointed out in a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was filed by a former student in the Allahabad High Court. The matter involved candidates of a certain community being appointed in the University’s Institute of Medical Sciences (IMS) in majority. The High Court found that applying the 200 point reservation roster had led to a disproportionate allotment of reserved positions wherein some departments had ended up with far too many reserved positions while some had almost none (as was the case of IMS, BHU). The court directed UGC to go ahead with the 13-point reservation roster to ensure even distribution of reserved positions.

This decision met with massive backlash as applying the 13 point roster led to a drastic cut in reserved positions due to the reason that almost no reservation could be applied in small departments with less number of faculty positions. Owing to the growing political pressure, the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) and UGC filed a Special Leave Petition (SLP) in the Supreme Court challenging the decision of the Allahabad High Court. Faculty recruitments across universities were completely withheld for months as the decision on the matter was pending.

In the extremely crucial verdict delivered on January 21st this year, the apex court upheld the judgement of the High Court calling it logical. It was told that as faculty positions in different departments were not interchangeable, therefore they could not be clubbed together for calculation of reserved positions.

The Centre, confronted with tremendous pressure in the face of upcoming elections, filed a review petition within days of the judgement being passed. The petition was backed with statistics taken from 21 central universities and proved that implementing the 13 point roster would lead to reserved positions being cut down by more than 50%. However, in another quick development, the Supreme Court dismissed the review petition commenting that all the factors cited in the same had already been taken into account while considering the SLP filed earlier.

University recruitments, which were on a standstill for almost a year, are likely to pick up after the approval

Although the MHRD, sensing the likelihood of the dismissal of their petition, had already circulated the ordinance for the Cabinet’s approval before it was actually rejected. Now, that the ordinance has received the approval from the Cabinet, the much awaited recruitments against more than 5000 vacant positions across universities are likely to pick up.