Mumbai: Terming the decision of Maharashtra government to conduct offline Common Entrance Test (CET) for admission in junior colleges as “arbitrary, harsh, capricious, unreasonable, discriminatory and without authority of law”, the Bombay High Court on Tuesday quashed the government resolution of May 28 declaring that the test would be based on SSC syllabus.
A division bench of Justices RD Dhanuka and Riyaz Chagla even rapped the government for deciding to hold an offline exam amidst the Covid-19 pandemic for students who are under-18 and not yet vaccinated.
The HC has also directed the government to complete the admission process within six weeks based on the basis of marks secured by the students in Class 10 by evaluation method/internal assessment. The government has been directed to issue a fresh notification within 48 hours on the process of admission.
Taking note of the fact that the Covid-19 was still more prevalent in 11 districts in the state, the HC observed that the students in these districts too would be forced to take offline CET to get admission in college of their choice.
“Large number of minor students who are more susceptible to draconian pandemic would be forced to expose their life to a big risk which would be in gross violation of their right to life enshrined under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. It would have a serious cascading effect. Life is more important than the choice of the students to get admission in a preferred junior college which even otherwise would be secured by CAP (Common Admission Process) admission method subject to the merits of each student,” observed the judges in their 68-page order.
The judges have also observed that the government did not have any power to issue such a GR imposing conditions for admissions to junior colleges and was done to eliminate the students from other Boards to compete with the students of SSC Board.
Terming the government decision to treat equals as unequals, the HC quashed the GR saying that it cannot remain a “silent spectator” since it would affect the lives of large number of students.
The HC has asked the government to complete the admission process within six weeks observing that the students would have been unnecessarily suffering from mental stress. “The commencement of the academic year would be further delayed without achieving any purpose and object. In our view, due to such Government Resolution issued without authority in law and by imposing such arbitrary and unreasonable conditions, large number of the students who have been waiting to start their second inning by taking admission in junior college are suffering from mental trauma, anxiety and tension,” observed the judges.
The HC refused to stay the order. “Considering the facts involved and the right to life of the lakhs of students, we are not inclined to grant stay of this order. Application for stay is rejected,” the judges observed in their 68-page order.
None of the other boards supported the CET
The HC noted that ICSE, CBSE and IGCSE had sent letters to the government lodging their protest against the CET saying that their students had options of selecting subjects like Maths and Social Studies, which were going to be compulsory in the CET.
“A perusal of these three letters would indicate that none of these Boards who are parties to this petition have agreed to participate in the CET examination willingly or unwillingly and have given suggestions to do away with the CET examination for various reasons already set out therein,” observed the HC.
The Maharashtra government had issued a resolution on May 28 for holding a CET for admission to junior colleges.
On July 19 it was announced that the CET would be conducted offline on August 21 and would be based on SSC syllabus. It was announced that those students who appear for the CET would be able to choose their preferred college while taking admission to standard 11. However, those unwilling to appear for the CET would be admitted based on the aggregate of their Class X marks, according to the GR.
Two petitions were filed before the HC – one by an ICSE student Ananya Patki and another by students of IGCSE board – challenging the government notification dated May 28 that declared “admissions to XI/ junior colleges will be based on CET which in turn will be based solely on the SSC board syllabus”.
Ananya’s father and advocate Yogesh Patki had argued that the decision was taken in a “haphazard manner”.
Mihir Desai, counsel for the students of IGCSE board, had argued that the students who would go to attend CET examination physically are below 18 years of age and at high risk.
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