Instead of calculating the number of reserved seats based on the total number of faculty members at a university, the UGC wants the calculation to be department-wise.
While hearing a case on teachers’ recruitment in Banaras Hindu University in April this year, the Allahabad High Court held that reservation in teaching posts has to be applied department-wise by treating the department as a “unit” and not the university.
In response to the above verdict, the University Grants Commission (UGC) last month decided to implement a new formula for reservation in teaching posts in the university. Now, if Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) decides to accept the decision, it could result in lesser positions for SC, ST and OBC faculty on university campuses, according to PS Krishnan, former secretary to the central government and an expert on the subject.
The Court condemned UGC for applying reservation in a “blanket manner” and advised the regulator to revisit its implementation. According to a report by the Indian Express, “If the University is taken as a ‘Unit’ for every level of teaching and applying the roster, it could result in some departments/subjects having all reserved candidates and some having only unreserved candidates. Such a proposition again would be discriminatory and unreasonable. This again would be violative of Article 14 and 16 of the Constitution,” the Allahabad High Court had observed in its verdict that cancelled the BHU recruitment and asked it to start afresh.
As per official data, there are 17,106 teaching positions at 41 UGC-funded central universities, of which roughly 35 percent seats are vacant, as of April 1, 2017. Any change in the implementation of reservation will affect all new recruitment drives taken up by universities in future. The number of SC, ST, OBC faculty positions currently are calculated by treating the university as a “unit”. This practice grouped or clubbed together all the reserved quota for all posts of the same grade, say, professor, across different departments in a university. If the new UGC formula is accepted by the HRD ministry, the reservation would be applied by treating each department in a university as a “unit”. This means the number of reserved posts at the same level will be determined separately for each department; calculated based on the total posts in each department.
Krishnan, who has worked in the field of social justice for SCs, STs, and OBCs for more than six-and-a-half decades, told the Indian Express, “Take professors, for instance. There are fewer professors in a department compared to assistant professors. If a department has only one professor, there can be no reserved posts there as reservation cannot be applied in case of a single post. But if all posts of professors across different departments are clubbed together, then naturally there is a better chance of positions being set aside for SC, ST, and OBC,”
He further added,” If our goal is to strengthen India by giving opportunities to persons belonging to the submerged populations, who have become qualified, then we should interpret rules or make rules to enable them to come in due numbers. If our aim is to weaken India then we can interpret rules in a manner, which defeats the goal of reservation.”
The UGC’s Standing Committee examined 10 court judgments on the subject and recommended that the Allahabad High Court’s verdict should be applied to all universities. The UGC is learned to have shared this decision with the HRD Ministry and is waiting for its “concurrence”.
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