NEW DELHI: The premier IITs cannot just cite pursuit of academic excellence as a reason to expel SC/ST students failing to make the grade, the Supreme Court said while exhorting the institutes to take care of those belonging to socially backward classes at every stage.
Asking IIT Delhi to reconsider its decision to expel five students from the backward classes for their poor performance, a Bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justices P Sathasivam and B S Chauhan said, “These socially and economically backward categories are to be taken care of at every stage even in specialised institutions like IITs.”
Asking IITs not to apply the grading system mechanically to backward class students, especially those belonging to SCs and STs, the Bench said, “They must make all endeavour to provide additional coaching and bring them up at par with general category students.”
Writing the judgment for the Bench, Justice Sathasivam said SCs/STs were a separate class by themselves and the creamy layer principle did not apply to them. Additionally, the Constitution enjoins upon the state to promote with special care the educational and economic interests of people and protect them from social injustice and all forms of exploitation, he added.
After perusing the low grades of students who were expelled from IIT Delhi, the Bench said, “It is true that the petitioners were not able to secure the required credits as against the stipulated minimum requirement for continuation of their studies.”
However, it rose to their defence, especially as they were from the socially and economically backward class. “It is relevant to mention that admittedly all these students had joined IIT Delhi in the academic year 2006-07 and 2007-08 after clearing All-India JEE conducted for all the IITs in the year 2006 and 2007. It shows that they were successful in securing the minimum cut-off marks earmarked for the SC/ST categories,” the Bench said.
“In such circumstances, it cannot be claimed that all these students are not fit to be admitted in IIT,” it said, adding, “We are of the view that ends of justice would be fully met by giving one more opportunity to them.” It directed IIT Delhi to consider their cases afresh within four weeks taking into consideration the various aspects discussed in the judgment.