|An OJEE counselling session and (below) OPECA secretary Binod Dash. Telegraph pictures
New Delhi/Bhubaneswar, Aug. 7: The Supreme Court today stayed Orissa High Court order directing the state government to hold a Special OJEE for BTech (engineering) courses for the 2014-15 academic year.
After the order was delivered, technical education minister Sanjay Kumar Das Burma said that in deference to the apex court order, passed on a special leave petition filed by the state government, the test scheduled to be held on August 10 had been put on hold till further order.
The bench, headed by Justice T.S. Thakur along with Justice C. Nagappan and Adarsh Kumar Goel, stayed the high court order, the state’s standing counsel Sibashish Misra told The Telegraph.
On August 1, the high court asked the state government to conduct a Special OJEE for BTech courses to give another opportunity to eligible students seeking admission to technical institutions in the state. Subsequently, the state government had notified that the test would be held on August 10. The registration for the said test began on August 3 and ended today.
Till last year, admissions to BTech courses in engineering colleges of the state were done through the OJEE. This year, the state government joined the JEE-Main, a common all-India engineering entrance test. Accordingly, students aspiring for BTech seats took the JEE-Main test, conducted by the Central Board of Secondary Education.
As many as 37,487 of 48,687 engineering seats have been left vacant after the final phase of counselling ended here last week, making it the highest ever figure of vacant seats in the 10 government and 101 private engineering colleges of the state.
The high court had passed the order on the petition of the Odisha Private Engineering Colleges’ Association. It had endorsed the association’s contention that many eligible students could not take the all-India examination, because their examination results were not declared before the last date for submission of application.
Incidentally, the state government, on the association’s plea, on Wednesday relaxed the eligibility norms for BTech admissions during the Special OJEE test by allowing two more subjects while calculating the minimum 45 per cent-mark eligibility criteria for the engineering courses. The earlier procedure was that students securing 45 per cent marks in physics, chemistry and mathematics were to be computed. According to the relaxed norms, score in English and another subject were to be computed while determining the minimum eligibility marks.
Reacting to the apex court order and state government’s subsequent decision, association secretary Binod Dash said: “We are surprised and astonished by the move of the state government. So many colleges wasted a lot of money advertising and trying to get students for admissions. This is unethical.”
While passing the order, Orissa High Court had said: “It cannot be denied the fact that neither the institutions nor the state government nor any student will be gainer if substantial number of seats is allowed to remain vacant in technical institutions. It will be beneficial to all concerned if as many as eligible students are afforded another opportunity to pursue technical education without compromising merit. If a large number of seats remain vacant in both government and private technical institutions, that will be a national waste.”
In a related development, the state government today decided to shift the second phase JEE-Main counselling and admission from August 8 to August 11.