SC notice to Centre, IITs on quota ‘flout’ in faculty recruitments
The Supreme Court on Wednesday issued notice to the Centre and the 23 IITs on a petition alleging that these institutions were not offering reservation to Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes while recruiting teachers or admitting research students.
A bench of Justices L. Nageswara Rao, B.R. Gavai and B. Nagarathna, however, made it clear that it was seeking a response only on the limited issue of non-implementation of the quota policy, and not on the claim of the petitioner that a large number of IIT students had committed suicide because of harassment and his demand that the performance of faculty members be evaluated and non-performers sacked.
The petition has been filed by Dr Sachchidanand Pandey a geothermal energy researcher.
In his petition filed through advocate Ashwani Kumar Dubey, Pandey has alleged that the process followed by the country’s 23 IITs to admit candidates to research programmes and appoint teachers is “completely unconstitutional, illegal and arbitrary. The Respondents 2-24 are not following the guidelines of reservation as per the constitutional mandate.”
These IITs are also not following a transparent recruitment process, which opens up opportunities for non-deserving candidates to join the premier tech schools by exerting influence, the petitioner alleged. Such an appointment process increases the chances of corruption, favouritism and discrimination and has a telling effect on the institutions’ rankings and technological growth and is one of the reasons for the country’s technological backwardness, Pandey alleged.
According to the petitioner, the Union government had on June 9, 2008, written letters to the directors of the IITs of Kharagpur, Madras, Bombay, Kanpur, Roorkee and Guwahati, asking them to implement reservation for SCs, STs and OBCs while recruiting assistant professors for science and technology courses and all ranks of teachers for the humanities and management streams. In November 2019, the Centre extended the quota benefits to all posts in all disciplines.
However, the IITs have been violating the quota policy that provides for 15 per cent reservation for SCs, 7.5 per cent for STs and 27 per cent for OBCs, the petition alleged.
Pandey claimed that the IITs in Madras, Bombay, Gandhinagar, Tirupati, Dhanbad, Kharagpur, Kanpur, Roorkee, Guwahati, Hyderabad and Bhubaneswar had only 68 SC, 10 ST and 194 OBC teachers among a cumulative faculty strength of 3,581, while the remaining were general candidates.
He also submitted that the number of faculty members from north Indian states such as Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh is low compared to their overall population.
Pandey claimed that the information he has submitted in court was based on replies to his RTI queries.
“…The RTI replies received by the petitioner from the respondents (the respective IITs) itself shows that the percentages of faculty belonging to the abovementioned states are around 4.91 per cent, 7.92 per cent and 27.65 per cent in IIT Tirupati, IIT Madras and IIT Gandhinagar, respectively,” the petition said.
The percentage at IIT Kharagpur is 13.77, according to the petition.
“The remaining IITs didn’t provide the state and category-wise data requested by the petitioner in his RTI application,” Pandey said.
Alleging opacity in the recruitment process, Pandey said in the petition: “…The Respondents No. 2-24 have never exposed about the standards set by the IITs for recruiting its faculty members….”