Plea of Law Student For Domicile Reservation Rejected by SC

Shreyas Sinha, an aspirant of 5 years law course, approached the Supreme Court against the order passed by the Division Bench of Calcutta HC, whereby the appeal against the order passed by the single judge was dismissed.

The Appellant had sought admission to the 5-year law course offered by the West Bengal National University of juridical sciences. Appellant formed the basis of his plea based on the amendment in the West Bengal National University of juridical sciences Act 1999, by means of which the reservation for the students having domicile of state of West Bengal to the extent of at least 30% of the total intake of the University, has been provided.

Initially, an advertisement was published on 05/01/2019 by a consortium of 21 national law University’s in the country to conduct common Law admission test. The Appellant participated in the text and secured the 731 rank in the All India merit list. As per the merit list of CLAT and his choice, he was selected to get admission in National University Odhisa, but he did not join such an institution.

It was pleaded that the amendment Act came into force before the common law admission test was conducted; however the benefit of reservation has not been extended to the students by the University in the academic session 2019 – 20.

Counsel for the University opposed the appeal of the Appellant and submitted that the last candidate who has been admitted in the general category has the rank of 262. In contrast, the rank of the Appellant is 731.

It was further contended that the Amending Act is completely prospective and cannot be given effect for te process which has already started from January 2019.

The Single Judge of the High Court dismissed the Writ Petition on the ground that the amending Act is prospective, and therefore, the Appellant could not have got the benefit of the amendment. The decision of the single judge was upheld before the Division Bench of the Calcutta High Court, and the appeal was dismissed.

A 3 judges Bench of Supreme Court consisting of Justice L. Nageshwar Rao, Justice Hemant Gupta and Justice R. Ravindra Bhatt, dismissed the appeal of the student, by observing that the Bill for Amending the Act was tabled on 16/11/2018 and the same was approved and published in the Gazatte of State Government on 21/05/2019, but a perusal of the Amending Act reveals that there is no provision that it will apply to the ongoing admission process.

The Court held that the Act is silent in respect of the academic year from with effect from which the benefit of reservation is to be given and since the candidates have already applied and submiited option for admission in the various national universities before the coming into force of the amendment Act, therefore the University correctly extended the benefit of reservation from the next academic session. The Court found that such decision of the University was fair, reasonable and not arbitrary.

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