In a recent order, the Delhi High Court pulled up the JNU Administration for its "complete lack of assistance" in a writ petition concerning admission of one Nishant Khatri, to the M.Sc P.hd integrated programme.
While directing the University to take into account the concerns raised by the Petitioner, Justice Rajiv Shakdher imposed costs of Rs 75,000 to be paid by the University to the Petitioner.
"In view of the complete lack of assistance by JNU and the fact that the petitioner had to approach this Court for relief, JNU is directed to pay the petitioner towards costs Rs.75,000/-. Cost will be paid within the next two weeks from the date of receipt of a copy of the order.
The JNU administration will take into account the concerns raised by the petitioner and ensure that the same are factored in the ensuing academic sessions," the court directed.
Khatri had approached the High Court as he was not called for the viva voce round of admission to the said course, despite having met the eligibility criteria.
He contended that that as per clause 3.2 of the Admission Policy, he was required to secure 35% of 70 marks, i.e. 24.50 marks, in the entrance exam to be called for the viva voce. He submitted that he had clearly crossed the threshold by obtaining 35 marks but, he was not called for the viva voce round.
The University on the other hand took the defence of Clause 3.3 of the Admission Policy as per which, the number of candidates that could be called for the viva round was restricted to "around" three times the available vacancies; and that since there were only 8 vacancies, 25 candidates were called.
Tearing into this argument, Justice Shakdher held that Clause 3.3 was "framed rather ineptly".
"On the one hand, it uses the expression "the maximum number of candidates to be called for viva voce for admission to each programme" and then goes on to say that "around three times of the intake in each field of study," the court said.
The Court further noted that out of the 25 candidates that were called for the viva voce, 9 were OBC candidates and therefore, effectively, the general category candidates who were invited for the viva round were only 16. Further, four out of the said 16 general category candidates did not make it to the top 150 candidates in the merit list.
To this, JNU tried to justify its position through Clause 6.4 of the Admission Policy which states that reserved category candidates who are selected on their own merit are not counted under the reserved quota.
The Court said that University could have resorted to this provision only after entire selection process, including the viva round, was completed. In other words, a merit list should have been prepared on the basis of the marks obtained by a candidate in his/her viva voce.
"..to my mind, there is merit in the submission of the petitioner that Clause 6.4 could have been taken recourse to by JNU only after candidates were selected after the viva voce was completed and not before," Justice Shakdher said.
Nevertheless, the court noted that Petitioner had "moved on in life" and therefore, the relief of cancelling the admission process or re-conducting the counselling/interview, had been rendered "inefficacious".
The Court also noted that while the University had advertised vacancies for only 8 seats in the unreserved category, it had filled up 9 seats. To this the University responded that 1 vacancy available against the physically handicapped category was filled up by a candidate who fell in the unreserved category.
Expressing its alarm at this approach, the court remarked,
"I have not been able to get any answer as to how this modality could have been followed by JNU to admit 9 candidates in the unreserved category as against 8 vacancies by sequestering 1 vacancy from physically handicapped category."
The Court also came down upon the University for failing to provide a satisfactory answer to the queries regarding the admission process, raised by the Petitioner through RTI.
"Insofar as the third aspect is concerned which pertained to misalignment between the information contained in the merit list and the information obtained by the petitioner via the RTI route, no satisfactory answer has been given by the counsel for JNU," the court observed.
Case Title: Nishant Khatri v. JNU
Case No.: W.P. (C) 3334/2018
Quorum: Justice Rajiv Shakdher
Appearance: Mr. Harsh Ahuja with Mr. Kushal Kumar, Advocates for Ms. Monika Arora, Standing counsel with Mr. Arun, Senior Assistant (for JNU)
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