The University Grants Commission (UGC) has taken down draft guidelines from its website, which suggested the possibility of "de-reservation" of reserved posts in the absence of enough candidates from the SC, ST, and OBC categories. The move comes after a controversy arose over the proposal, with concerns raised about its impact on quotas in higher education institutions.
UGC Chairman M Jagadesh Kumar clarified that the guidelines were removed because the feedback submission period had ended, not as a response to the controversy. He emphasized that there has been no de-reservation of reserved category positions in Central Educational Institutions (CEI) in the past, and there are no plans for such actions in the future.
The draft guidelines had sparked criticism, with the Congress party labeling it a conspiracy to undermine reservations in higher education. Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan assured that no post would be de-reserved, citing the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Teachers’ Cadre) Act of 2019 as a safeguard for reservations.
Despite these assurances, the draft faced opposition from various quarters, including the JNU Students’ Union (JNUSU), which staged a protest against UGC Chairman M Jagadesh Kumar. Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge accused the BJP of jeopardizing youth employment, while Congress leader Rahul Gandhi called for the dismissal of UGC Chairman Jagadesh Kumar, alleging a conspiracy to end reservations for SC, ST, and OBC categories.
In response, Minister Pradhan criticized Gandhi's claims, stating that the data showed significant appointments in reserved posts under the Narendra Modi government. The draft guidelines, titled "Guidelines for Implementation of the Reservation Policy of the Government of India in Higher Education Institutes," had raised concerns due to a provision allowing the de-reservation of vacancies if eligible candidates from reserved categories were insufficient. The authority to approve de-reservation was delegated to either the UGC or the Union Ministry of Education.
(With Agency Inputs)