Published: 21st December 2020
TISS students worry reservation not being followed fairly in admission, write to admin
After the Mumbai High Court observed that errors had been made in the admission process by giving away OBC seats to general category candidates, the students began to worry
A section of students from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences has raised objections against the institute’s admission policies and has demanded a clarification on the same. A few weeks ago, an aspiring candidate approached the Mumbai High Court claiming that they had not been given a seat despite qualifying and that the institute was giving away OBC reserved seats to general category students. The Court had observed that the institute had ‘committed fraud’ by admitting someone who didn’t belong to the community to a reserved seat. With similar petitions frequently popping up, students are now demanding transparency in the admission process and are worried that changes are being made discreetly to alter the policies.
“You (TISS) have committed fraud against the entire society...you have admitted somebody against seats for OBC category, but the candidate does not belong to OBC category,” said the bench comprising Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Girish Kulkarni. The judges asked the Institute why they had not corrected their errors after realising it and observed that perhaps ‘it was done deliberately.’ Some of the students were shifted to the Chennai campus, while general category students were admitted to the Mumbai campus, the candidate alleged. Students say that several candidates have approached the court with similar cases, making them worry that the process had been compromised.
Several student groups raised an objection when the institute tweaked its admission policy in the prospectus — TISS-NET is a shortlisting process, no reservation rules are applied at this stage. All rules related to reservations of seats under different categories and priorities will be applied only at the time of final seat allocation through merit list/waitlist. A member of the Interim Committee and a Masters student at the institute said that this change left the students very confused, “TISS-NET which is considered as Stage-1 and the screening phase for Stage 2 of the admission process would not be following reservation policy. This left us confused, as we wondered how it would be possible to maintain the certainty of having reserved candidates in the final merit list after Stage-2, if there seems to be no guarantee of following the reservation process in the first stage itself. This had never been done before,” he questioned.
After the students raised objections, the institute informed them that they had added ‘explanatory notes’ to explain the process, “That pretty much stated that nothing had changed but it still didn’t tell us why the change had been made in the first place. And when more candidates started to complain that OBC seats had been given away to general category students, it seemed to us that the admission process was not being as transparent as it should be.”
The members of the Adivasi Students’ Forum reached out to the institute again demanding clarifications, “We are worried that, soon, other reserved seats will also be given away to general category students if we allow this to continue. We need to ensure all the admission procedures are being followed correctly.”
In their letter to the administration, the Forum asked the following questions — one, what was the need to mention ‘since it is a shortlisting process no reservation rules are applied at this stage’ when there have been no changes in the admission process from last year as mentioned later in the explanatory note - ‘The application of reservation process this year remains the same as in previous years and is in accordance with all statutory norms. No change has been made in this’?
Secondly, the students demanded a clarification regarding the administration decision to decide the ratio of the shortlisted students would be based on the number of seats in each category, “Under the section ‘Clarification regarding reservation policy’, point number two states that ‘the number of candidates shortlisted for Stage 2 under each category will be arrived at in a ratio approved by the competent body of TISS based on the number of seats under each category as per reservation rules and the score candidates in that category receive for TISS NET’. “But at the same time they fail to divulge any more information about the ‘competent body’ like the number of members in the body, the people who will constitute it, the representation of reserved community members in the body and most importantly the formula followed to derive the ‘ratio’ for each category,” the students said.
The students also asked to know what was the ‘ratio’, which had been consensually agreed upon by the similar ‘competent’ body for last year’s admission process. “They just mention competent authority but there are no details whatsoever, so how can we have faith? So far, we haven’t received any response from the administration and we are not sure if we will. By reducing the number of candidates that they invite for an interview, the administration is fudging up the reservation policy. We have to ensure that the administration ensures transparency,” the students said.