MUMBAI: Bombay high court on Thursday asked IIT-Bombay if it could add a seat for this academic year for a 23-year-old reserved category student who lost his admission and teaching assistantship to a masters programme because he never got mail.
The offer letter of his selection didn’t land in his inbox, consequently he could not pay fees on time, in August for a masters programme in Industrial Design.
A bench of chief justice Dipankar Datta and justice Girish Kulkarni asked the IIT-B counsel Arsh Mishra to take instructions from the director whether the institute could still add a seat this academic year. The course had started on August 10.
The bench said since he is from a reserved category, “under the Constitution you must encourage him to study.’’
The IIT said it cannot, conveyed the lawyer. The HC then posted a petition filed by the student Prathamesh Pedamkar to Monday to see whether the seat can be reserved for him next year, based on his selection this year.
The HC bench observed during the hearing, “It is IIT Bombay a premier Institute. One would expect that when it has been represented that offer letter will be mailed, 99 percent will expect the mail will come.’’ “It is IIT Bombay,’’ repeated the CJ.
Pedamkar’s counsel Ashraf Shaikh said that the student worked hard in the long selection process and even secured a scholarship as an SC student. But, for a mistake by the IIT in failing to send his offer letter by email, as informed after his final July 22 interview, he would have been at the IIT’s Powai campus by now, said Shaikh, fulfilling his life-long dream.
The IIT’s stand was that email—which it admitted, 18 other candidates also did not receive– was not the only mode and applicants were aware that they had to check the website regularly for updates in the admission process. Mishra said 14 other such mail-less students had seen the site and paid fees on time.
Shaikh, however, pointed out that due to pandemic, the IIT had revised its original admission schedule which was never uploaded on the site. The HC too questioned the IIT lawyer on the revised schedule whether it was uploaded. To his reply, the CJ said, “this doesn’t answer the query I am putting, whether the (revised) schedule was put on the portal. Why didn’t you follow the process like the original, so that he would have known that from Aug 10 the classes start.’’
But the CJ also noted that the student had waited a bit too long, till August 21 when he first enquired from IIT.
The bench observed, “problem is both are at fault.” To IIT, the HC observed, “he has been selected and you cannot avoid your responsibility that the mail was not sent.” And of the student the judges said, “He was also not very diligent.’’
The HC asked his lawyer Shaikh to find out if any precedents on granting admission the next year based on this year’s selection and will hear the matter on Monday.

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