The order had said instead of the current practice of institution-wise hiring of SC/ST teachers, there would now be a department-wise reservation system.
New Delhi: The University Grants Commission (UGC) has informally told all universities to not hire new faculty as per the department-wise reservation system for teachers in the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe categories.
UGC had on 5 March directed all central, state and deemed universities getting grants-in-aid that reservations for SC/ST teacher posts would henceforth be implemented department-wise rather than institution-wise.
But within a few weeks, it has stopped the universities from carrying out this order, because the government has filed a Special Leave Petition (SLP) in the Supreme Court to withdraw the order in the aftermath of protests by Dalit groups over a separate issue — the alleged dilution of the atrocities act by the apex court — that damaged the image of the central government.
“We have informally communicated to universities that since the matter has gone to court now, there should not be any new hiring as per the department-wise reservation system,” said a senior official.
A formal communication is likely to follow soon, sources said.
A controversial order
The order had sparked dissatisfaction in the university system, as experts argued it would have an impact on the representation of SCs/STs among the faculty, which they said was already much lower than required.
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Of the 17,106 teaching positions in centrally funded universities, over 5,900 posts are vacant. Any new recruitment drive done in accordance with the new system would affect the distribution of SC/ST teachers, experts said.
Even the parliamentary committee on the welfare of SCs and STs took up the matter with HRD minister Prakash Javadekar, after which the ministry decided to go to court to overturn its own order.
HC directive that led to the order
The UGC order was based on an Allahabad High Court directive in April 2017, which stated that to calculate quotas for SCs and STs, every department of a university should be considered a separate unit. At present, the entire university is treated as a single unit. The court was hearing a case on teachers’ recruitment at Banaras Hindu University at the time.
The high court, while passing the order, had struck down a UGC circular on institution-wise quotas to fill vacant SC/ST posts, pointing out that there were departments without any SC/ST teachers.
The SLP filed by the ministry will seek a stay on the Allahabad High Court judgment.
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