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Department-wise hiring in universities grave miscarriage of justice, Modi govt to argue in SC

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In review plea, govt to tell SC that department-wise hiring will bring down faculty from reserved categories to zero in some institutions. 

New Delhi: The human resource development ministry will argue in Supreme Court that the department-wise roster system for faculty hiring in higher education is a “grave miscarriage of justice” as a huge number of candidates from the reserved categories will lose out.

Two weeks ago, the Supreme Court had rejected the Centre’s appeal to restore institution-wise faculty hiring across higher education institutions as against the department-wise hiring mandated by an earlier order of the University Grants Commission.

The ministry is now set to file its review petition on the Supreme Court order next week.

In its plea, the government will argue that department-wise hiring will massively cut down on the number of faculty belonging to the Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribe and Other Backward Caste categories across institutions, bringing their numbers to even zero in some places.

“Departments are generally very small, with very less number of faculty,” a senior official in the ministry said. “It is not possible to meet the constitutionally-mandated quota of reservation when a department is considered as a unit.”

The ministry has conducted an assessment of faculty quota across 20 central universities and found that if the department-wise roster system is put in place, the percentage of SCs could go down by 58 to 97 per cent, that of STs by 78 to 100 per cent and that of the OBCs between 25 and 100 per cent across institutions.

Top sources in the government, however, told ThePrint that if the review petition fails to yield any result, an ordinance on this issue is not possible before elections.

Also read: Universities can start hiring again as Supreme Court ends teacher quota stalemate

The formula

Reservation in educational institutes is calculated according to a certain formula.

If a pool of 15 teachers is considered a unit, every fourth position goes to a person from the OBC category, every seventh position goes to a person from the SC category and every 14th position goes to a person from the ST category. This is in order to fulfil their constitutionally-mandated reservation of 27 per cent, 15 per cent and 7.5 per cent respectively.

But if the department is considered a unit, it will be very difficult to implement reservation as a department would typically not have more than 10 faculty members at a particular level.

In case there are 10 faculty members in a department, the fourth position will go to an OBC candidate, the seventh position will go to an SC candidate but there will not be any ST employee in that department and it might take years for that position to fill up.

The department-wise faculty hiring has invited criticism from across political parties, including the BJP’s own student wing, the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), which has written to the government to make sure “reservation is delivered equitably and judiciously, and in no circumstances opportunities for the marginalised classes should be curtailed”.

It has demanded that a high-powered committee, with proper representation of the groups concerned, be set up to seek solutions in time-bound period of 30 days.

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