Delhi Government States NLU Delhi As State University in Defence of 50% Reservation for Locals, Delhi High Court Reserves Order

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Delhi Government argues that NLU Delhi is only a State University and not a “national” institute of excellence. It counters the contention that a 50% reservation for the local candidates would undermine its national character.

Facts of the case

The three students of NLU Delhi filed the present petition. The petition concerned the introduction of a 50% reservation for candidates who cleared their qualifying examinations from an institute in Delhi. A division bench of Justice Hima Kohli and Subramonium Prasad heard the petition.

Petitioner’s Arguments

The petitioner argued that the Delhi Government “arm-twisted” the University administration into rolling out the reservation for local candidates. This violated the NLU Delhi Act. Senior Advocate Kaul referred to the communication between the University administration and the Delhi Government. Mr Kaul contended that on the introduction of reservation, the Government released the grants and funds to the University. However, the same could not be permitted.

Further, without even awaiting the decision of a committee headed by Justice NV Ramana, the government took the decision to roll out the impugned reservation. SC remarked this on the issue of domicile reservation at NLU Delhi.

Furthermore, the counsel contended that the University is autonomous and is a national institute of excellence. Also, it is difficult for the University to handle an increased number of students because of the reservation policy. Moreover, the criteria for clearing the “qualifying examination” from Delhi is not rational. The reason is the exclusion of student of Delhi who moves to another city for his/her 10th/12th standard.

Respondent’s Arguments

Standing Counsel Ramesh Singh represented the Delhi Government. He argued that NLU Delhi is only a State University. It came into existence based on the Act enacted by the Delhi legislature.

Therefore, NLU Delhi could not be said to be a national institute of excellence. Further, he argues that the reservation is under the NLU Delhi statute. It is also in the persistence of Article 41 of the Constitution of India. The Supreme Court supports the provision which is evident through the several judgements. On the reservation policy, the counsel for NLU Delhi informed the Court that the University was under an obligation to do so, given the pending requests of grants to develop infrastructure. At last, the Standing Counsel said, “this keeps in mind the cosmopolitan flavour of Delhi.”

Court’s Decision

In regard to the introduction of the policy, the Court remarked, “What prevented you from coming to Court? … you got your back against the wall and you succumbed?”

As Singh submitted that NLU Delhi could not be said to be a national institute of excellence, Justice Kohli remarked, “Tell your client to thank itself for that.” After hearing the parties at length, the Court reserved its order on the petition on the point of a grant of interim relief.


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