The main private players in the higher education sector were circumspect this Monday Decision of the Supreme Court to uphold the validity of the 103rd Constitutional Amendment, indicating that any move to mandate reservation for EWS in its admission programs will be met with resistance.
His position is important as after the amendment was passed in 2019, the Ministry of Education (then Ministry of HRD), had drafted a bill to implement the quota for the SC/ST/ OBCs and EWS in the private sector.
However, the bill, for which the opinion of the Ministry of Law was also sought, did not advance further. The then Union Education Minister Prakash Javadekar had also announced that the reservation policy will be extended to private educational institutions.
At present, reservations in private institutes are not mandated by any law, though the 93rd Constitutional Amendment had added a clause expanding the scope of reservations for socially backward classes in educational institutions, including private ones.
Mohandas Pai, chairman of Manipal Global Education Services, said the government should launch a national scholarship program, with predetermined eligibility criteria.
Pai told The Indian Express, “I think if you force private institutions (to adopt the EWS quota), someone has to pay for it… Public institutions are spoiled with public funds, while people see forced to fend for themselves in private institutions, which serve 65% of higher education students. For private institutions, the ability to do anything else is very limited.”
OP Jindal Global University Vice-Chancellor Prof C Raj Kumar said the best way for the private sector to commit to promoting the ideals of inclusion and diversity, in line with the “philosophical underpinnings of the SC judgment “, is to encourage more scholarships and bursaries. “Whenever the State decides on these issues, it will always have a particular policy in mind,” he said. “Different private institutions may have their own approaches to promoting diversity and inclusion.”
While welcoming the SC’s decision, Dr Vidya Yeravdekar, chancellor of Symbiosis International University, said much also depends on whether the government plans to make a further push to give legal backing to quotas in the private education sector.
“Symbiosis has always supported inclusion,” he said. “The RTE [Right To Education] it is implemented in all Symbiosis schools whether affiliated to CBSE/SSC or even IB boards. The university has been offering scholarships to students from economically backward families in 22 villages surrounding the university campus in Lavale, Pune.
Dr JC Passey, dean of Jhajjar-based World College of Medical Science and Research, said that even if the EWS quota is applied to private colleges, no concession will be given in terms of fees.
“This will mean that students who provide the necessary documents will get medical seats below the quota,” said Passey. “However, there will be no fee concession for these students. They will pay at par with others. The fee is only for the selection process…” Dr Passey said.
During the hearing, the Center had earlier complained to the court that the provision to EWS candidates in terms of admission in aided or unaided private educational institutions “is not violative of Article 14 as held by this Court”.
With contributions from ANONNA DUTT