The Supreme Court bench comprising Justices Raveendran and Patnaik today clarified that ‘cut-off’ is synonymous with ‘minimum eligibility,’ and the 10% relaxation in cut-off for OBC candidates is to be calculated from the minimum eligibility mark, and NOT from the mark obtained by the last general category candidate to secure admission.
This verdict has removed the main reason for non-fulfilment of OBC seats, and is a major blow to the agenda of anti-reservationist forces.
Dismissing the appeal by the Youth For Equality (YFE) and PV Indiresan against the Delhi HC verdict of 7 September 2010, the SC Bench upheld the Delhi HC verdict and ordered all universities and colleges which are in the midst of their admission process must make all necessary corrections, define eligibility marks as cut-off, and fill OBC seats accordingly by 31 August.
This judgement will have far-reaching consequences not only in JNU but also in universities all over the country.
Responding to the verdict, Sucheta De, Secretary of the JNU Unit of AISA Shephalika Shekhar, former Vice President of the JNUSU and AISA leader, said, “This verdict is a vindication of the struggle that was begun by the AISA-led JNUSU three years ago. In 2008, the JNU Administration, in order to subvert OBC reservations, wrongly interpreted ‘cut-off’ as the marks obtained by the last general category student to secure admission, rather than as ‘minimum eligibility marks.’ The 10 % relaxation for OBC students was calculated from this distorted benchmark; as a result OBC quota remained unfulfilled and most OBC seats converted to general category seats. Even other universities like DU and Allahabad University adopted this clever ploy created by JNU, in order to ensure non-fulfilment of OBC quota and diversion of OBC seats.”
Sucheta said, “Right from the start, AISA alerted everyone that this method of fixing ‘cut-offs’ was flawed and would never allow OBC seats to be filled. AISA waged a sustained struggle against this wrong definition of ‘cut-off,’ using admission data obtained through RTIs to prove the validity of our argument. In the three years that followed, AISA launched a sustained campaign and struggle to rectify the distorted implementation of OBC quotas in JNU and elsewhere. Eventually, in 2010, our stance was vindicated by the Delhi High Court in a landmark verdict.”
Sucheta added, “The anti-reservation YFE and die-hard casteist P V Indiresan filed an SLP (special leave petition) challenging the HC verdict in the Supreme Court. Today’s verdict finally vanquished the anti-reservation forces even in the Supreme Court, which firmly upheld that ‘cut-off’ and ‘minimum eligibility’ were one and the same thing.”
Commenting on the Central Government’s double standards on OBC reservations, Shephalika Shekhar, AISA leader and former JNUSU Vice President said, “We repeatedly approached the HRD Ministry and Social Justice Ministry, asking them to step in and settle the matter by clarifying how their own law on OBC reservations was to be interpreted. Not only did the Central Government fail to do so: in the Delhi HC, the Counsel for Central Government actually argued in support of the JNU Administration and YFE advocates, arguing against our (correct) interpretation of ‘cut-off marks.’ It was only after the Delhi HC verdict vindicated AISA’s 3-year long struggle that the Central Government changed its posture.”
Shephalika Shekhar also commented on the lack of support from so-called pro-OBC parties, saying, “During the 3-year long struggle, the political parties whose USP is ‘social justice’ and ‘OBCs’ welfare’ maintained a strange silence on the deliberate and open subversion of OBC quotas. Parties like the RJD and SP were allies of the UPA, and they used their power to stall 33% reservation for women, in the name of concern for OBC political representation. But they never used that power to ensure that the central government and Parliament intervened to correct the travesty of OBC reservations!”