Thursday, August 18, 2011

OBCs to get the full benefit of reservation at the IITs

The Supreme Court has spoken:

Other Backward Classes (OBC) students will qualify for admissions if they have 10 % less marks than the eligibility level fixed for the general category students, the Supreme Court has ruled. The apex court Thursday clarified that 10 % relaxation being given to OBC students did not mean it will be 10 % less than the last student admitted under general category.

Since the IITs were following the second policy (which now stands quashed), the fraction of OBC students among this year's JEE-qualified students was just about 20% -- as opposed to the 27 % they were eligible for.

Thanks to today's SC verdict, OBC students will start getting the full benefit of the reservation policy from next year (this year's admissions will not be affected).

All in all, a welcome clarification from the Supreme Court.

* * *

Update (19 August 2011): J. Venkatesan's report in The Hindu has all the crucial details. In particular, the SC order prohibits re-allocation of OBC seats to the General Category as long as there are OBC students who meet the (relaxed) eligibility criteria.


  1. gautam barua said...

    This was bound to happen and it is the logical decision. The process was clouded by the verdict of the last SC bench where there was a dissenting note which specified that only 10% relaxation will be given (which was taken to mean on the cut-off) and unfilled OBC seats will be converted to GE seats. This was a weird decision when there were no such restrictions for other reserved categories such as SC and ST. So if a SC student with lower marks can study in an IIT, why can't an OBC student with the same mark? It is not however, clear from the info. released what will be the status of the rule of converting unfilled seats to GE (although this may not arise in JEE 2012 if the cut-off for OBC is made the same as that of SC and ST, that is 50% of the last GE student admitted: this use of a cut-off is something not covered by the SC judgement but a rule that the IITs have been following all these years without any objections from the Courts and the SC and ST commissions).

  2. cipher said...

    Minimum eligibility criteria meaning what exactly? The 60 percent or so in 12th Board? I support emancipation of the socially disadvantaged through affirmative action. However, I wish either you or some social scientist could provide reference to an audit report or a scientific paper that studies the effectiveness of the current reservation policy. My current basis of supporting reservations is a recognition of the enormous economic and other inequalities amongst different castes. That alone should not be sufficient to support the policy of caste based reservations.

  3. gautam barua said...

    I would like to add for those of you who are not aware of how IIT admissions take place: the cut-off marks for SC students (similarly for ST students separately) is set at 50% of the marks obtained by the last student who has got admission in the General category (GE) . All SC students getting marks above this cut-off are eligible to get admission to the available seats (15% of the total available seats). If seats remain vacant because there aren't sufficient candidates with marks above the cut-off, then a "second cut-off" is used which is 50% of the first cut-off. Candidates above this second cut-off are chosen based on their marks to enter a "preparatory" course of one year. At the end of the preparatory course in a particular IIT they will chose one of the seats that could not be filled in that IIT and enter the regular 4 year programme. So the IITs fill all seats available, with some seats going into a preparatory year, so to speak ( sometimes though there aren't enough candidates above the second cut-off to fill the preparatory seats. Then some seats remain vacant. Has happened for ST in some years).
    So now if there is no conversion of unfilled OBC seats, the unfilled seats will go into "preparatory mode" I suppose.
    The eligibility criterion is 60% in the class XII exams (55% for Sc and ST). Now for OBC it should also be 55% (10% less would make it 54%!).

  4. Abi said...

    @Gautam: Thanks for the clarifications about the IITs' procedure.

    But, my impression is that yesterday's SC verdict essentially says the procedure used by the IITs is not the right one. In other words, as long as OBC students meet the minimum eligibility criteria (which, let's say, are fixed at 55% in the 12th standard exam), they should be included in the OBC merit list until that list is filled up to the (approved) limit -- even if this means their JEE marks fall below 90% of the score of the last GC student.

    Is this correct? If not, which part of the SC verdict am I interpreting wrong?

  5. gautam barua said...

    Well, things have not got any clearer to me after reading the article in the Hindu. I think the IIT JEE Board will have to read the actual judgement carefully to decide on its impact. The judgement seems to say that cut-offs should be decided before an examination. If this is indeed so, then the IIT system will have to be changed. As I have mentioned in my last post, the IITs use the marks of the last GC (GE) candidate to decide the cut offs for other category students. The reasoning behind this is that it is difficult to predict how easy or tough a particular year's paper will be and so some "relative" measure is required. If this is not allowed (the ref. to JNU seems to indicate this), then the IITs may have to announce absolute cut-off marks for the entrance exams. Would this be acceptable I wonder: cut-off for OBC = 0.9* min (36, marks of the last GC candidate admitted), So 0.9*36 (=32.4 out of 100) is the cut-off, but if the paper is tough, it can be lower! Do folks think that the SC will buy this? Does it honour the spirit of the judgement?

  6. Sunil said...

    @Abi: I think you are right. The SC verdict clearly states "The cut-off procedure followed by Jawaharlal Nehru University during those days had the effect of rewriting the eligibility criteria, after the applications were received from eligible candidates. No candidate who fulfils the prescribed eligibility criteria and whose rank in the merit list is within the number of seats available for admission can be turned down by saying that he should have secured some higher marks, based on the marks secured by some other category of students. A factor which is neither known nor ascertained at the time of declaring the admission programme cannot be used to disentitle a candidate to admission who is otherwise entitled to admission".

    Last line "A factor which is neither known... entitled to admission" makes it quite clear that no minimum cut-off (relative to GC) for OBC candidates if they fulfill the condition of minimum qualification.
    This procedure was/is being followed by Delhi University anyway. E.g., For admission in MSc (Physics) course this year, minimum marks required to take entrance test for a GC candidate is 60% (50% for OBC and pass marks for SC/STs in BSc); there is no cut-off at the next stage (i.e., entrance marks). That is why the cut-off for GC was 85 marks (out of 400), 45 for OBC, 11 for SC and -5 for ST. Merit lists for GC, OBC, SC and ST are de-linked; No relative cut-offs.

    As I see it, the verdict states that only the eligibility conditions for 'application' are under the discretion of the institutions. Simply put, if any OBC candidate is eligible to 'apply' for a course, he/she is 'good enough' to get admission irrespective of where he/she lies in the composite merit list or how much candidate scores relative to other categories in any subsequent entrance test (provided seats are available under OBC merit list).


    It is a good decision by Supreme Court.


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  8. दिनेश भोंडे said...

    iT WAS NEVER MEANT THAT but it has been practice in this country to make necessary arrangement to deprive of the rights. IITs have decided 10% lower marks for eligibility means 10% lower than the last admitted General student. The arrangement was for keeping OBC seats vacant and to convert them later into GE seats.
    Thanks to JNU students who approached SC and got their rights. Now seats can not be filled up by others.
    Who are responsible forsnatching admission of students to IITs and other institutes by defining wrong cut off.