UGC Draft Guidelines for De-Reserving Vacancies Spark Controversy

New Delhi: The University Grants Commission (UGC) has released draft guidelines for the implementation of the Government of India’s reservation policy in Higher Education Institutes (HEIs). According to the proposed changes, if an adequate number of candidates from Scheduled Castes (SC), Scheduled Tribes (ST), or Other Backward Classes (OBC) are not available, a vacancy reserved for these categories may be declared unreserved.

The controversial guidelines have sparked backlash from various quarters, with the JNU Students’ Union (JNUSU) announcing plans to protest. The UGC Chairman, M Jagadesh Kumar, has not yet responded to the criticism.

The draft guidelines state that while a reserved vacancy cannot be filled by a candidate outside the respective SC, ST, or OBC category, it may be declared unreserved through a de-reservation process. However, de-reservation is generally banned in the case of direct recruitment, except for rare and exceptional situations in Group A services. In such cases, the university must submit a proposal to the Ministry of Education for approval.

For promotions, if an insufficient number of SC and ST candidates eligible for promotion are available, the guidelines allow for de-reservation of reserved vacancies, with the power to approve this delegated to the UGC and Ministry of Education under specific conditions.

The approval process for de-reservation involves considerations such as the unavailability of candidates within the specified zones, concurrence from the liaison officer for SC and ST of the university, and resolution of disagreements between the appointing authority and the liaison officer with input from the Department of Personnel and Training.

The draft guidelines are open for public feedback, and stakeholders are encouraged to share their opinions on the proposed changes in the ‘Guidelines for Implementation of the Reservation Policy of the Government of India in Higher Education Institutes (HEIs).’

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