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Friday, August 12, 2005

No quota in private colleges: SC

AKSHAYA MUKUL

TIMES NEWS NETWORK

NEW DELHI: In a setback to the Centre's proposed legislation for regulating admissions to and fee structures in private professional educational institutions, which also provides for reservation, a seven-judge Bench of the Supreme Court on Friday ruled out quotas in them.

"Neither can the policy of reservation be enforced by the state nor can any quota or percentage of admissions be carved out to be appropriated by the state in a minority or non-minority unaided educational institution," the Bench said.

However, the apex court for the first time allowed a 15% quota for NRIs in professional institutions. It, however, made it clear that the higher fee charged from such students should be used for the benefit of students of economically weaker sections.

Explaining the court's decision not to favour reservation, chief justice R C Lahoti said: "The state cannot insist that private educational institutions, which receive no aid from the state, implement state policy on reservation while granting admissions on lesser percentage of marks, that is, on any criterion except merit."

The proposed Bill — Private Professional Education Institutions (Regulation of Admission and Fixation of Fee) Bill — currently with the states, proposes reservation for SCs/STs and other backward classes in deemed universities and also fixes seat quota for managements running private aided/unaided and aided/unaided minority professional education institutions.

But not all is lost for the Bill since the apex court does talk of a central legislation and recommends a number of measures which are already in the draft Bill.

The SC order is more in the nature of a clarification to the conflicting interpretation given by various high courts to the SC's 11-judge Bench order in the T M A Pai case and the five-judge Bench order in the Islamic Academy case. Moreover, the SC clarification, as CJI Lahoti said, relates only to unaided minority and non-minority educational institutions.

The SC also did not agree with the petition filed by minority institutions which demanded freedom to devise the admission procedure and administer educational institutions.

The apex court felt that the regulatory mechanism is aimed at protecting the interests of the student community as also the minorities. "Such regulations do not violate the right of the minorities under Article 30(1) of the Constitution," CJI Lahoti said.

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