SC orders seat creation in IIT Bombay for Dalit student who was unable to pay fees on time

The Supreme Court on Monday ordered a seat be created for a 17 year old Dalit student in Indian Institutes of Technology Bombay as he was unable to pay ‘seat acceptance fees’ on time due to technical faults.

A Bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and AS Bopanna directed the institute not to have a “wooden approach” and “understand the realities of social life and issues on ground.”

“The student did not have money, then sister had to transfer money and then there were technical issues. The boy cleared the exam. If it was his negligence then we would not have asked you,” remarked the top court.

The court exercised its powers under Article 142 of the Constitution to direct the Joint Seat Allocation Authority (JOSAA) to earmark a seat for the student, noting that it will be a great travesty of justice if the student misses out on admission due to no fault of his.

The petitioner was allocated a seat at IIT Bombay in Civil Engineering branch on 27 October. However, as the student fell short of money to pay the seat acceptance fee, he could only complete uploading the requisite documents on 29 October.

The next day, his sister had transferred the money to him and the petitioner tried to make payment about 10 to 12 times, but technical glitches failed him.

“Petitioner was unable to make the payment due to a technical error at the end of his card issuing bank, viz., State Bank of India,” the plea said.

Though the student attempted to make payment from a cyber cafe, on 31 October, it went unsuccessful. Thereby, he was unable to complete the fees payment within the scheduled deadline.

After several calls and emails went unresponded, the student physically went to IIT Kharagpur and requested for an alternative mode of payment and seat allotment. However, the administration turned down his request citing their inability.

The student from a Scheduled Caste community then moved to Bombay High Court for relief but the court took a technical view and dismissed his writ petition.

As JOSAA informed the Supreme Court that all seats have been filled and no vacant seats are available, the court ordered a seat be created in IIT Bombay without disturbing the admission of any other student. And if any other seat falls vacant, creation of this seat will be subject to admission being regularised, the top court clarified.