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Delhi HC defers hearing PIL seeking direction to JNU to reconsider allocation of all PhD seats to JRF candidates

The PIL contended that the shift in respondent JNU policy to completely close doors for non-JRF category candidates, who used to participate in the entrance examination earlier, is totally unreasonable, irrational and has no nexus to the object underlying therein

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The Delhi High Court on Monday deferred hearing on a petition seeking directions to the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) to reconsider its decision regarding allocation of 100 percent PhD seats to Junior Research Fellowship category candidates, leaving no seat for non-JRF candidates in the academic year 2021-22.

The Division Bench comprising Chief Justice D. N. Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh, while hearing the petition filed by the Students’ Federation of India, Jawaharlal Nehru University Unit, granted time to the Counsels for both sides to place on record the counter-affidavit and rejoinder affidavit, if any, by the next date of hearing, which is August 20.

The public interest litigation was filed through Advocates Ashok Agarwal and Kumar Utkarsh. The plea contended that in previous years, the PhD seats in seven centres of Jawaharlal Nehru University were filled up through both from the JRF category candidates, as well as from the non-JRF candidates on the basis of an entrance examination.

But in the current academic year 2021-22, JNU, through its e-Prospectus released on June 10 this year, decided to fill-up all PhD seats through JRF category candidates in seven centres, namely the Centre for International Trade and Development; PhD in Human Rights Studies (HRSH); Centre for English Studies; Centre for Indian Languages offering PhD in Hindi, Urdu and Hindi Translation; Centre for Study of Law and Governance; Special Centre for Systems Medicine, and the Centre for Women Studies. 

The plea alleged that the decision, which deprived the non-JRF candidates from applying against PhD seats in these seven centres, was unconstitutional, arbitrary and violative of Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution.

It further alleged that on account of Covid-19, the UGC-NET-JRF exams, which were held twice a year, were neither held in December 2020 nor in May 2021, due to which the non-JRF PhD candidates were not able to take up the UGC-NET-JRF examination, with no fault of theirs.

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The plea highlighted that the petitioner Union, on June 14, 2021, sent an e-mail to the Vice-Chancellor of respondent JNU followed by letter dated July 1, 2021, requesting him to interfere in the disproportionate JRF seats allocation issue and also to the Admission Branch of respondent JNU vide letter dated June 28, 2021, requesting them to roll back the discriminatory decision of seat allocation.

“The shift in respondent JNU policy to completely close doors for non-JRF category candidates, who used to participate in the entrance examination earlier, is totally unreasonable, irrational and has no nexus to the object underlying therein,” the plea read.

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