MUMBAI: Almost two weeks into the first-year junior college (FYJC) admission process, the school education department has asked minority colleges to apply social reservations to their non-quota seats. The directive, though, has drawn flak from minority institutions which have called it an infringement on their rights and demanded it be withdrawn at the earliest.
Social reservations, which total 74% of open category seats, were never applicable to minority institutions. They would admit open category students through the centralized admission process, excluding the 50% minority and 5% management quota and, in some cases, in-house quota. “The remaining 45% of the seats will be filled by nonminority students as per the reservation (social and others) as prescribed by the state government,” said the circular.

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If the state has, more than once, made it clear that social quotas do not apply to minority institutions and if the courts have, at various points in time, reinforced the point, there is no reason for the government’s school education department to push for it. These institutions already have a 50% minority quota and if more are added, a very small window would be left for non-quota seats.

In a letter to the director of school education, Maharashtra Association of Minority Educational Institutions said several government resolutions in the past have specified social reservations do not apply to minority institutions. “…Students from categories such as SC, ST etc are admitted if they fit into the merit of the college and not under any quota,” said the letter. The association requested the department to withdraw the order, failing which it would seek other measures of redressal that may delay admissions and they should not be held responsible for it.
A principal also said St Xavier’s College and the association had challenged an earlier Mumbai University circular asking them to apply social reservations to their seats. The high court upheld the contention of the minority institutions. The state filed a special leave petition in the Supreme Court, which was dismissed, said the principal.
“The director’s office has passed the order arbitrarily without any background. The government resolution from 2014 that they are citing, was meant only for institutions under the higher and technical education department and not in school education. The remaining seats are kept aside for open category. Some people are misleading the authorities and the minister. The order does not hold ground, and therefore, will have to be withdrawn,” said a principal.
The circular, drawn from a government resolution issued by the minorities department in 2014 has also asked colleges to admit students from other religious and linguistic minorities before surrendering their vacant minority seats after the centralized third merit list. “The 2014 circular was not applicable to junior colleges. Also, the online admission process does not take care of this provision as it is introduced at the last moment… The software also has to be modified,” said the letter.
Dinkar Patil, director of secondary education, though, said, “Even if the government resolution was issued in 2014, it wasn’t implemented yet. It was pointed out to us and hence we issued a circular. All the rules are as stated in the GR. The minority quota can continue till the end of the process, so colleges can incorporate the changes.” Patil said he has not received the association letter.
School education minister Varsha Gaikwad was unavailable for comment.



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