The Delhi High Court has quashed parts of two Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) advertisements that pertain to appointment to two posts, one of professor and another of associate professor, following a plea by some faculty members alleging illegalities in procedure. The high court directed the university to revisit the issue and work out the roster points afresh with regard to the two posts challenged by the teachers, and complete the exercise within three months.
The court was dealing with a plea filed on behalf of two assistant professors, affected by the recruitment process, and two professors, who are not affected but challenged the legality of the procedure. The petition claimed that they were proposing to apply for the vacancies under the reserved category but the university had converted one of the posts from schedule caste (SC) to schedule tribe (ST) category, while another post was de-reserved and converted to an unreserved seat.
The other two petitioners are professors in the university and are not affected by the selection process pursuant to the advertisements, but have impleaded themselves in the plea only with the purpose of highlighting the alleged illegalities in filling up the reserved posts by the varsity. Justice Jyoti Singh said it is obvious that the petitioners are confining their claim only to the two posts in the advertisements and there is no reason why the entire advertisements should be quashed.
It is open to the university to initiate a fresh recruitment process and advertise the two posts after the above exercise is completed, the court said. The judge said that the burden to prove that the reservation rosters were correctly recast, was on the university, which in my view, it has failed to discharge. Mere statements and denials that there has been no de-reservation or exchange of reservation points would not be enough for the university to rebut the data/ tables placed on record by the petitioners.
Senior advocate Akhil Sibal, representing the petitioner teachers, submitted that the appointments to the teaching posts in the universities have to follow the policy of post-based reservation, which mandates that specific teaching posts be designated or reserved for persons belonging to specific reserved categories such as SC, ST and OBC (other backward classes). The reservations shall not apply to the vacancies, he said.
He urged that although in an earlier advertisement issued by the JNU in 2017 certain posts were reserved, which ensured to the benefit of the two assistant professors, the said two posts have been shown in the altered categories namely ST and unreserved in the latest two advertisements, challenged in the petition. The plea, filed through advocates Maanav Kumar, Roshni Namboodiry and Nupur, have challenged the two advertisements issued by the varsity on August 19, 2019. It said the university published a statement on its website that there were 91 vacancies existing in SC/ST categories in the professor and associate professor cadre and against this only 57 have been advertised.
Advocate Monika Arora, representing JNU, argued that neither any post of SC or ST has been converted by exchange nor any de-reserved into unreserved post as alleged by the petitioners and reiterated that there is merely a shift in points. This change, according to her, has not caused any loss in required reservations of SCs and STs.
A division bench of the high court had earlier directed the JNU not to make any appointments on the concerned two posts till the pendency of the petition. The petition said the first teacher, Pradeep Shinde, who is an assistant professor of sociology at the Centre for Informal Sector and Labour Studies in School of Social Sciences, was proposing to apply for the post associate professor in the same centre which was earlier reserved for SC candidates but has now been converted into an ST post.
The second teacher, Tsetan Namgyal, who is assistant professor at the Centre for Inner Asian Studies (Tibetian and Himalayan Studies) at School of International Studies, was desirous of applying for the post of professor which was reserved for ST candidates but it has now been de-reserved and converted to an unreserved post. According to the petitioners, they are eligible for consideration against these reserved posts, respectively, according to the roster points and this action has adversely affected their consideration.