Reservation in Higher Education Institutes: After backlash, Ministry of Education issues clarification on UGC guidelines

Reservation in Higher Education Institutes: The JNU Students' Union (JNUSU) announced a protest against UGC Chairman M Jagadesh Kumar, scheduled for Monday.

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Courtesy: ANI

Reservation in Higher Education Institutes: Amid the backlash and protests, the Ministry of Education (MoE) issued a clarification on Sunday, refuting the possibility of de-reserving posts reserved for SC, ST, and OBC candidates. This comes in response to the draft guidelines proposed by the University Grants Commission (UGC), which suggested that reserved vacancies could be declared unreserved if an insufficient number of candidates from these categories were available.

Backlash and Allegations

The 'Guidelines for Implementation of the Reservation Policy of the Government of India in Higher Education Institutes (HEIs)' faced criticism from various quarters, with the Congress alleging a "conspiracy" to end reservations for SCs, STs, and OBCs in higher education institutions. The JNU Students' Union (JNUSU) announced a protest against UGC Chairman M Jagadesh Kumar, scheduled for Monday.

MoE's Clarification

MoE clarified that no de-reservation of reserved category positions had occurred in Central Educational Institutions (CEI) in the past, and there were no plans for such de-reservation. The ministry emphasized the adherence to the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Teachers’ Cadre) Act, 2019, which prohibits the de-reservation of reserved posts.

UGC Chairman's Statement

UGC Chairman M Jagadesh Kumar echoed MoE's stance, highlighting that reserved category positions in CEIs had not been de-reserved previously and would not be in the future. He emphasized the importance of filling all backlog positions in reserved categories through collective efforts.

Draft Guidelines Overview

The draft guidelines, as proposed by the UGC, stated that vacancies reserved for SC, ST, or OBC candidates should only be filled by candidates from the respective categories. However, a reserved vacancy could be declared unreserved through a de-reservation process, followed by filling it as an unreserved vacancy.

Exceptional Cases for De-Reservation

The draft guidelines outlined rare and exceptional cases for de-reservation, particularly in Group A services, where a vacancy cannot be left vacant in public interest. The proposal for de-reservation must include efforts made to fill the post, reasons for not leaving it vacant, and justifications for de-reservation.

Promotion Considerations

In cases of promotions, if an insufficient number of SC and ST candidates are available for reserved vacancies, such vacancies may be de-reserved and filled by candidates from other communities. The UGC and the Ministry of Education may accord approval for de-reservation under specific conditions.

The Ministry of Education's clarification after the backlash aims to allay concerns regarding the reservation policies in higher education. The draft guidelines, subject to stakeholder feedback, will undergo 'further scrutiny' before 'finalization.'

The ongoing protests underscore the sensitivity of issues related to reservation policies in India's academic landscape.