Calling the petitions before it “a claim for urban-centric elitism”, the Bombay High Court said that students seeking admissions in top colleges have no fundamental right to prestige.
A division bench of Justice S C Dharmadhikari and Justice Gautam Patel on Friday dismissed two petitions filed by 15 engineering colleges challenging the notification of December 31, 2018, through which the All India Council for Training Education (AICTE) had reduced the percentage of lateral entry engineering diploma courses into second year engineering degree courses from 20 per cent to 10 per cent.
In such a case, each engineering degree institute having a provision for intake of 20 per cent of its second-year seats for laterally entering engineering diploma holders, who had finished the three-year diploma after Class X, was reduced to 10 per cent.
Normally, a graduate degree in engineering requires a student to take a competitive centralised test after Class XII. Successful candidates are then enrolled in a four-year degree course.
This totals at least 16 years of education. The other route for a student is to directly enroll in a three-year diploma course after Class X.
After completing the three-year diploma course, they can enroll ‘laterally’ in the second year of the four-year engineering course.
The affidavit by Amit Dutta, the Regional Officer and Deputy Director, Western Regional Office of the AICTE, said the decision to reduce the lateral entry percentage is a policy decision. Earlier, the lateral entry percentage was actually 10 per cent until 2010-2011.
It was increased to 20 per cent. It was found that despite the increase, tens of thousands of seats were left unfilled in the second year. Across the state, there are enough seats to accommodate all lateral entry students.
The petitioners had contended that the top, reputed colleges like VJTI, Sardar Patel Institute of Technology and College of Engineering Pune, have a next to none vacancy in first year owing to their prestige.
“It is colleges of ill-repute, which suffer from poor quality faculty and infrastructure that have vacant seats, and reducing the quota of lateral entry thereby forces diploma students who would otherwise have secured admission to prestigious colleges to move to these lower quality colleges, which is also the admitted case of respondent AICTE,” the petitioners claimed.
On this, the judgment written by Justice Patel for the bench, said, “This lets the cat out of the proverbial bag. The claim, masked and disguised and made up to look like a fundamental right violation, discrimination, and arbitrariness, is nothing but a claim to prestige.”
Observing that all the three colleges mentioned are in urban areas, the bench said, “The allegation that other colleges are of ill-repute and have poor faculty is without demonstrated basis. As we have seen, the AICTE regulates all technical institutes, and prescribes minimum standards applicable to all. There is no fundamental right to admission in any particular college or institute. There is no fundamental right to prestige.”