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NLU Delhi has introduced 50% horizontal reservation at the University for candidates who have cleared their qualifying examinations from an institute in Delhi.
National Law University, Delhi is only a state university and not a "national" institute of excellence, argued the Delhi government today as it sought to counter the contention that the proposed 50% reservation at the varsity for local candidates would undermine its national character (Balvinder Sangwan & Ors vs GNCT of Delhi & Ors).
"There are only eight recognized national institutes of excellence and NLUD is not one of them", the Delhi government remarked.
A Division Bench of Justice Hima Kohli and Subramonium Prasad was hearing the petition filed by three students of National Law University, Delhi (NLU Delhi) against the introduction of 50% horizontal reservation at the University for candidates who have cleared their qualifying examinations from an institute in Delhi.
Ramesh Singh, Standing Counsel for the Delhi government, argued that NLU Delhi was not a Central university or a national institute of excellence, and was only a state university which came into existence on the basis of the Act enacted by the Delhi legislature.
In response to this, Justice Kohli remarked,
The Delhi government argued that the reservation policy was in accordance with the NLU Delhi statute, in furtherance of Article 41 of the Constitution, and was protected by several judgments of the Supreme Court.
On the other hand, appearing for the petitioners, Senior Advocate Neeraj Kishan Kaul today vehemently argued that the Delhi government "arm-twisted" the University administration into rolling out the reservation for local candidates, in violation of the NLU Delhi Act.
Kaul referred to the communication between the University administration and the Delhi government to contend that the latter had made the release of grants and funds to the University contingent on the introduction of reservation for Delhi-based students, and that the same could not be permitted.
It was added that the decision to roll out the impugned reservation was taken without even awaiting the decision of a Committee headed by Supreme Court judge, Justice NV Ramana on the issue of domicile reservation at NLU Delhi.
On being queried as to why the University chose to exercise its emergency power under the NLU Delhi Act to introduce the reservation policy from this academic year itself, Advocate Sanjay Vashishth, counsel for NLU Delhi, informed the Court that the University was under an obligation to do so in view of the pending requests of grants to develop infrastructure.
On this point, the Court queried,
Apart from contending that the University was completely autonomous and was a national institute of excellence, Senior Advocate Kaul also pointed out that the University was not equipped to handle the increased number of students in terms of infrastructure.
The Court also heard parties on the point of the policy being "disadvantageous to true-blue Delhites".
Kaul argued that the criteria of clearing the "qualifying examination" from an institute in Delhi was not rational or valid, as it may exclude a Delhiite who moves to another city for his 10th/12th standard schooling.
Standing Counsel Singh said in response to this,
"This keeps in mind the cosmopolitan flavour of Delhi."
After hearing the parties at length, the Court reserved its order on the petition.
The petition was filed through Advocate Nipun Saxena.
Advocate Naman Joshi appeared for prospective BA.LLB. candidates, intervenors in the matter.