Mumbai: An 18-year-old is likely to lose a year, after the Bombay High Court refused to reinstate his admission, which was cancelled as he failed to submit a Caste Validity Certificate on time due to a delay by the Caste Scrutiny Committee.
The fixation of specific dates as deadlines for students was a matter of policy, and the court could only direct authorities to relax the policy when necessary to protect fundamental rights or rectify illegalities, reasoned a division bench of Justices Sunil Shukre and Firdosh Pooniwalla, adding that there was no such necessity in the present case.
“… it would be not appropriate on the part of this Court to direct the authorities to restore the admission of the Petitioner on the ground that there was no fault on his part in submitting the Validity Certificate on or before the last date fixed for that purpose,” the bench said.
The bench further said that deadlines are sacrosanct in nature, otherwise it would disturb the entire admission process.
Court cites Caste Certificate Rules, 2012
“If there is any delay in the start of the academic year, it would necessarily adversely affect the quality of the education. These reasons would show the sacrosanct nature of various cut-off dates and timelines prescribed for completion of various stages of the admission process,” the judges noted.
The judges noted that although the Caste Certificate Rules, 2012 prescribe a time frame for issuing the certificate, it does not specify any consequence if it is not adhered to.
The court said: “Rules nowhere say that if the claim of Caste Certificate is not decided within the prescribed time of 45 days, it shall be deemed to be issued.”
The HC was hearing a petition by Bhushan Chaudhari who had been admitted to Sir JJ School of Arts on a reserved seat with the condition that he must produce a Caste Validity Certificate on or before August 14, 2023. As he failed to produce the certificate within the specified time frame, his admission was cancelled.
His advocate Shrirang Katneshwarkar argued that there was no delay on Chaudhari’s part. He had applied for the same in November 2022. He was issued a certificate on August 16, two days after the deadline for submission.
Court said admissions must run smoothly
Emphasising on the sanctity of the admission deadlines, the court said the admission process must proceed smoothly and should not be hindered by delays in document submissions. The admission process involves multiple stages, each of which must be completed within the prescribed time limit to ensure the orderly functioning of the academic year.
Deadlines “have their own sanctity and the rationale is that the admission process must go on smoothly and must not be hindered and halted… otherwise, the schedule of whole academic year of students will go haywire in the sense that there would be no finality attached to the admission of students”, the judges underlined.
“In the result, we find that there is no merit in the Petition,” the judges said while dismissing the petition.