The Ministry of Education and the University Grants Commission (UGC) clarified on Sunday that centrally funded universities will not de-reserve any reserved faculty positions. This clarification comes in response to the controversy surrounding UGC’s draft guidelines, which hinted at the possibility of opening unfilled vacancies for SC, ST, OBC candidates to general candidates in “rare and exceptional cases.”
On December 27, the higher education regulator released draft guidelines for implementing the reservation policy in higher education institutions, seeking public feedback by January 28. The draft, crafted by a four-member committee led by Dr. H. S. Rana, the director of the Institute of Public Administration, included a chapter on de-reservation of unfilled quota posts intended for teachers, officers, and university employees.
The chapter mentioned a “general ban on de-reservation of reserved vacancies in case of direct recruitment,” allowing it only in exceptional circumstances with adequate justification from the university.
The ministry emphasized that the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Teachers’ Cadre) Act mandates reservation in such institutions for all posts in direct recruitment in the teachers’ cadre. It instructed all central educational institutions to fill vacancies strictly in accordance with the Act.
M Jagadeesh Kumar, the Chairperson of the University Grants Commission, stated, “This is to clarify that there has been no de-reservation of reserved category positions in Central Educational Institutions [CEI] in the past, and there is going to be no such de-reservation. It is important for all [higher education institutions] to ensure that all backlog positions in reserved categories are filled up through concerted efforts.”
The draft UGC guidelines raised concerns about potential de-reservation in faculty positions, prompting criticism.
“The constitutional provisions related to affirmative action are not mere words but expressions of a constitutional commitment… UGC seeks to topple whatever growth made in this direction since independence. The proposition to introduce de-reservation is a preposterous act in itself. The de-reservation provision will open a window of discrimination against reserved category candidates,” stated a joint statement signed by former president of Delhi University Teachers’ Association Aditya Narayan Misra and four members of the Delhi government’s OBC Commission.