Published: 06th January 2021
UoH VC asks NCBC to reconsider its directives on OBC admissions, reservation process
The NCBC had issued several notices on November 16 to the University regarding discrepancies in the MPhil and PhD admissions of some of the candidates
For the last 13 days, the All India OBC Students Association has been protesting at the University of Hyderabad and some of its members are also on a hunger strike. The students are demanding that the administration implement the recommendations of the National Commission of Backward Classes which held a public hearing at the University after receiving a series of complaints on the violation of reservation policy in admissions as well as incidents of discrimination on campus. The Vice-Chancellor of the University, Appa Rao Podile has now responded to the NCBC regarding two of the admission cases and has asked the Commission to reconsider the directions it has given to the University.
The NCBC had issued several notices on November 16 to the University regarding discrepancies in the MPhil and PhD admissions of some of the candidates and also asked the administration to respond to them on allegations of discrimination among employees as well. The NCBC has directed the administration to allot seats to some of the students who had been denied seats. The AIOBCSA said that following the notices, about ten students were given an admission. However, the cases of two candidates whose admission issues were not addressed, which is why the NCBC sent notices to the University again on December 12. Besides the issues relating to the teaching and non-teaching community, the Commission raised the issue of two PhD candidates — Adduri Mukteshwar and Harshini Devi and accused the administration of violating admission norms and directed them to give the two candidates a seat.
In Adduri’s case, the NCBC had said that he was not given required marks in the interview for allegedly ‘not having any research experience certificates and publications’. “A meritorious candidate whose initial marks placed him in the top position was then changed to the eleventh position without due reason,” the report said. “After he was placed in the first position, suddenly the whole situation was changed by the authorities bringing some irrelevant documents into the admission process,” the NCBC said. The Commission observed that the University had received complaints about how there could be chances that some candidates may have produced documents that were published under the current UGC CARE list. “It is very clear that the complainant wants to alert admission authorities to be careful and verify the documents published under the UGC CARE list. It was not specified whose documents are fake...The Deans committee has not even stated in their report about any fake publications in their report, which shows that the publication submitted by Adduri is acceptable. Having gone through the documents and facts submitted by the University officers before the Commission, this Commission strongly feels that the candidate is personally targeted to deny admission,” the notice said.
In Harshini Devi’s case, the NCBC had said that the candidate had shown that she initially scored 44 marks in the written exam but it was later changed to 43 marks without any basis. “Her 43 marks out of 70 marks in the entrance exams comes to a 65 per cent cut-off , whereas as per the UGC guidelines, all candidates who obtain 45 per cent and above for OBC will be called for interview,” the notice said, directly accused the University of ‘personally depriving’ Devi of a seat.
With regard to both these cases, the VC has written to the NCBC presenting their side and explaining why they had not violated any norm. In the letter, addressed to Bhagwan Lal Sahani, the Chairman of the NCBC, the VC said that with regard to Adduri’s case, that the University had received complaints about discrepancies in the PhD admissions. This is why they had formed a committee to look into the issue and that this committee and the deans had agreed upon a final merit list. In this final list, Adduri had been placed at the 11th position in the list and among the OBCs was the fifth candidate in line for a seat. “There are three candidates above Adduri who have not got admission. Any accommodation of Adduri can only be done by replacing the selected candidates and not otherwise,” the administration said.
With regard to Harshini Devi’s case, the VC said that as per the UGC Regulations, they would have had to call 111 candidates for five PhD seats but that the administration had only called 36 seats according to the 1:6 ratio (1 seat - six candidates). “If the University has to call candidates as per UGC Regulations, 2016, as advised by the NCBC then 75 more candidates need to be called for the interview. As the first step of the exercise, the admissions which have already been completed needs to be cancelled. This is likely to give rise to several legal issues,” the VC said.
The administration also said that even if Harshini had been called for the interview, she would not have been selected for a seat since her marks were still lower than the candidates who were given the seat.
The University claimed in the letter that they had followed all the norms and had followed reservations in a transparent manner. “The OBC seats have been filled by meritorious OBC candidates available in the combined merit list. The University promises to implement views of the NCBC in future admissions without any ambiguity,” the VC said. But also requested the NCBC to reconsider its directions to the University.
In response to the VC’s letter, the AIOBCSA argued that the University’s explanations were not satisfactory to them. With regard to Adduri’s case, they placed the following questions — Why the 'unanimously' taken decision of the Admission Committee on October 27, 2020 related to interview marks were changed on November 9, 2020? Did the Admission Committee commit any mistake or accepted its mistake and rectified it after the Dean’s Committee’s report? Does the Dean's Committee or the Grievance Committee, or the Admission Committee find or certified any document submitted by any of the candidates – research publication or research experience as ‘fake’ as claimed by the frivolous complaint? Are the criteria or reasons mentioned by the Dean's Committee for excluding the research paper or research experience certificates were mentioned or on par with the admission notification?
“We strongly feel Adduri was personally targeted for his active participation in the OBC movement. The letter sent to the Chairman, National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) by Prof Podile reiterates the same and the Vice-Chancellor is searching for all grounds to exclude his candidature. Initially in the form of forming committees and then finding grounds to omit his candidature in-spite of directions from the NCBC,” the Association argued. They also argued that the University had not properly gone through the directive that the NCBC had given in Harshini Devi’s case.
The AIOBCSA, in their letter, claimed that the University had a history of ‘correcting the admission process after the intervention of student organizations or even sometimes by the judiciary’, “In 2014, the University of Hyderabad provided PhD admission in the Department of Telugu, and in the last academic year, the Department of Education and Education Technology (DEET) was given the PhD admission after the June 2019-20 session. The same grievance Committee has rectified the mistake and provided seats with the intervention of the Vice-Chancellor.”
The AIOBCSA brought up the case of Arun Ketan, G Sudhakar, Pabbati Prema, Mattela Rakesh, who had also written to the NCBC alleging that they had been denied a seat despite being qualified, “This shows that the admission process of University of Hyderabad has flaws, and aggrieved students have got admission after the intervention of the NCBC. Podile has to accept the mistake in the admission process,” they urged.
They also raised previous cases of violation to substantiate their argument against the VC, “The High Court of Telangana has clearly stated that UoH administration has bypassed the statutes of University in Head for the Centre for Women Studies in-spite of having an eligible Professor. Similarly, a Professor of School of Life Sciences has been appointed as the Dean of the School of Medical Sciences in-spite of having eligible Professors in the School of Medical Sciences. In another case, the High Court of Telangana has clearly stated that the University of Hyderabad has not implemented the OBC reservations in the 2007 recruitment notification and asked the administration to rectify the mistake. These violations of the statutes of the UoH clearly reflect the misuse of powers and authorities by the VC”
“None found Suitable (NFS) option is used for the recruitment of OBC Professor and Associate Professors posts in spite of having all qualifications. The VC has violated the recruitment rules and reservation policy by downgrading the Professor post. The violations of the recruitment rules have happened in the Department of Political Science, School of Social Sciences, and Department of Systems Biology, School of Life Sciences,” the Association accused. The members of the Association, also raised the issue of the entrance exams for the January 2021 PhD session was only conducted in the Hyderabad centre, “ The hidden agenda of this move is to make a majority of these seats to be left vacant in January 2021 session and convert half of the reserved seats to the General Category. The hidden agenda was brought to the notice of the University Administration, but there is no reply from anyone. Is this not a violation of the UGC Regulations?” they questioned.
“We request the Vice-Chancellor not to overlook the directions of the Commission and go through them properly and understand the need for the orders to streamline the admission process in June 2020,” the Association requested.