Delayed start

Published : Oct 08, 2004 00:00 IST

Students and parents watch a video screen showing vacancies in engineering colleges, during a counseling session at Anna University in August. - N. BALAJI

Students and parents watch a video screen showing vacancies in engineering colleges, during a counseling session at Anna University in August. - N. BALAJI

AFTER a delay of two months, classes for undergraduate courses in engineering colleges in Tamil Nadu affiliated to Anna University, will commence on October 1, under a new schedule. Admissions to professional colleges were held up owing to court cases over a number of issues, procedural and otherwise (Frontline, September 10). The new schedule was announced on September 8, soon after the Madras High Court ruled that unaided private engineering colleges need not follow the Single Window System (SWS) to fill the "management seats". The university had earlier filled through SWS the government seats in these colleges, which constitute 50 per cent of their total intake. SWS is basically a system of centralised counselling for candidates who have passed a common entrance test. The transparent system also took care of the statutory reservation of seats for different social groups. A government-appointed committee had prescribed SWS for self-financing colleges also, which held their own common entrance test, to fill the "management seats".

Justice Prabha Sridevan in the High Court held that SWS curtailed the right of the managements to admit students. She observed: "SWS deprives the institution of [its right to] choose its students, which right has been declared by the Supreme Court in the T.M.A. Pai case and clarified in the Islamic Academy's case... . The fact remains that the Supreme Court, at no point, mentions centralised counselling. In fact, the judgments keep reiterating that the institutions have their discretion to select the students of their choice." The court said that the freedom of the institutions to select their students was "curtailed only to the extent that selection shall be on the basis of merit".

The question about whether SWS was applicable to non-governmental colleges was referred to Justice Prabha Sridevan, when a Division Bench, which earlier heard a batch of writ petitions on the admissions issue, left it unanswered. The Judge did not agree with the argument that the students would be deprived of "exercising their choice if SWS is not followed". She pointed out that students did exercise their choice "by applying to the college that they prefer". The court held that the role of the government-appointed Permanent Committee was confined to receiving the merit list and the list of selected candidates and ensuring that the merit list was overlooked.

THE managements of self-financing colleges were happy that they could now regularise the admissions they had already made, reportedly after receiving an "advance" from candidates. The only criterion is merit and all they should do is to satisfy the Permanent Committee, if the need arises at a later stage that they have gone by the "merit list". But, to their dismay, came another judgment from the High Court a week later. Dismissing a writ petition filed by the All-India Medical and Engineering Colleges Association, Justice A.K. Rajan held that unaided engineering colleges would not be permitted to admit students who have not written the common entrance test conducted by the government or the association of private colleges. Justice Rajan said: "these students cannot be admitted since they did not write the CET, which is made a condition by the Supreme Court." The petitioners have sought a direction to the department of Higher Education and the Director of Technical Education to approve the list of students who obtained eligible marks in the qualifying exams and were admitted to various colleges in 2004-05. Pointing out that there was no guarantee that the State would fill up the entire government quota seats in unaided colleges through SWS, the Judge said: "Even under these circumstances, as per the decisions of the Supreme Court, individual colleges cannot admit students who did not appear in any of the CET." The court categorically said: "admissions to engineering colleges cannot be done only on the basis of marks obtained in the qualifying [in this case Plus 2] examinations."

Referring to the judgment on the applicability of SWS, Dr. S. Ramadoss, Pattali Makkal Katchi founder, expressed the apprehension that if the seats were not filled under SWS, reservation in "management seats" would remain only on paper and there would be no way of monitoring whether reservation norms had been followed. He has pressed the State government to prefer an appeal in the Supreme Court and seek a stay of the judgment "in the interest of the majority of students".

S. Viswanathan
Sign in to Unlock member-only benefits!
  • Bookmark stories to read later.
  • Comment on stories to start conversations.
  • Subscribe to our newsletters.
  • Get notified about discounts and offers to our products.
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide to our community guidelines for posting your comment