Supreme Court
The Bombay Lawyers’ Association (BLA) has filed a petition in the Supreme Court (SC) seeking a review of its 19 April judgment | Sonu Mehta/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
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Govt will seek a stay on the Allahabad HC order, following which UGC announced a controversial formula of reservation in faculty posts at universities. 

New Delhi: Faced with Dalit protests over a range of issues, including two recent court-backed orders, the Modi government is set to begin a legal ‘course correction’.

The first move will be made this week when the Centre will file a review petition before the Supreme Court to undo its controversial order on faculty reservation.

The Modi government is expected to file a special leave petition in the Supreme Court on 11 April to withdraw a UGC order that announced a new formula for implementation of reservation in faculty posts at universities.

The move comes even as the BJP-led central government is battling with a Dalit backlash. While the 5 March UGC order sparked a debate in the academic community over reservation, a 20 March order of the Supreme Court on relaxing certain provisions of the SC/ ST Act has sparked a full-fledged controversy.

Several Dalit MPs from across party lines had demanded that the government file a review petition to undo the court orders, forcing the hand of the Modi government.

The faculty reservation row

The SLP will seek a stay on the Allahabad High Court judgment which had led to the controversial new reservation formula calculating faculty posts departments wise rather than for a university as a whole.

The Allahabad High Court had struck down a UGC circular on institution-wise quota to fill vacant SC/ST posts, pointing out that there were departments without any SC/ST teachers.

On 5 March 2018, the UGC had written to all central, state and deemed to be universities getting grants-in-aid, announcing that reservations for SC/ST teacher posts would henceforth be implemented department wise rather than institution wise.

The UGC order sparked an instant reaction in the university system with even the parliamentary committee on the welfare of SCs and STs taking it up with the HRD minister Prakash Javadekar and all other stakeholder ministries.

Currently, the reservations are calculated as per total faculty posts in a university. The new mechanism, based on the order of the Allahabad High Court, has said that reservation will be calculated department wise instead. The Allahabad High court order was upheld by the Supreme Court.

What led to this controversy

It is feared that the move will severely cut down the number of posts available for SC and ST faculty members. Considering that reserved faculty posts already go vacant in huge numbers, the new policy is likely to further shrink representation of marginalised sections across the university system.

The government had to set up a 10-member inter-ministerial committee to look into the issue and this committee also recommended that a review petition be filed in the apex court to undo UGC’s order.

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