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Delhi High Court disposes of plea seeking directions to JNU to reconsider allocation of PhD seats

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

The development came after the Division Bench comprising Chief Justice D.N. Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh was informed that the matter has now become infructuous as the admission process for the ongoing academic year has already been completed. 

The Bench, however, reserved liberty with the petitioner association Students’ Federation of India, Jawaharlal Nehru University Unit, to approach appropriate authority in accordance with law in case of any necessity. 

The public interest litigation has been filed through Advocates Ashok Agarwal and Kumar Utkarsh. The plea contends that in the 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 (100%) PhD seats through JRF category candidates in the seven centres, namely, 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, Governance; Special Centre for Systems Medicine; and Centre for Women Studies. The plea alleges that this decision, thereby, deprives non-JRF candidates from applying against PhD seats in these seven centres; and is unconstitutional, arbitrary and violative of Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution.

The plea further alleges that on account of Covid-19 UGC-NET-JRF exams, which were held twice a year, was neither held in December 2020 nor in May 2021, due to which non-JRF PhD candidates could not get an opportunity to take UGC-NET-JRF examination to no fault of theirs.

It is highlighted in the plea that the petitioner Union, on 14.06.2021, sent an e-mail to Vice-Chancellor of respondent JNU followed by letter dated 01.07.2021 requesting him to interfere in the disproportionate JRF seats allocation issue and also to Admission Branch of respondent JNU vide letter dated 28.06.2021 requesting them to roll back the discriminatory decision of seat allocation.

“The impugned 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 reads.

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