Justice BD Karia of the Gujarat High Court has directed the National Institute of Design at Ahmedabad to grant provisional admission to two students belonging to the general category in the course for Masters in New Media Design, in the unfilled seats reserved for the Economically Weaker Section (EWS).

The Court took the decision after noting the fact that the Education Ministry does not have any policy about converting EWS seats to General Category, if it is lying vacant after completion of the admission process. As per the policy of the Union of India, the reserved vacant seats of SC and ST quota can't be converted in the Open Category, which can only be done with the OBC quota seats.

"In view of the above facts, the respondent-Institute is directed to give provisional admission to the petitioners on the two vacant seats of EWS category during the pendency of this petition as the petitioners have made out a very good strong prima facie case as well as balance of convenience is also in favour of the petitioners. If the petitioners are not given provisional admission, there will be irreparable loss to the petitioners who are desirous to pursue the Master course in New Media Design in the Premier Institute of the World," the Court stated.

Advocate Digant Popat appeared for the petitioner students Anjal Balabhaskaran Konakkil Thottan and Suyash Rajeshkumar Tiwari, Advocate Keyur Gandhi appeared for NID while Additional Solicitor General Devang Vyas represented Union of India.

In this case, the Petitioners were named in the waiting list for the course of Masters In New Media Design, of two and half years duration, with the NID. Out of 19 seats, 4 seats which are reserved for various categories could not be filled up for want of suitable students of the reserved category and in spite of such a situation, the Petitioners belonging to general category were not given admission by the institute.

Out of the 04 seats which are vacant due to non-availability of the suitable candidates, 02 seats are reserved for EWS category and 02 seats for SC/ST category and therefore, in view of the O.M. No. 17-1/2011-U1 dated 25th May, 2012 issued by Ministry of HRD (now Ministry of Education) and the guidelines issued by the Department for de-reservation of OBC/NCL category seats vide O.M. No. 5/7/2015-IPR-V dated 31st July, 2015, only OBC seats can be filled by General Category students if such seats remain vacant, whereas SC/ST seats cannot be filled even if they remain vacant.

Opposing the petition, the Advocate for the NID submitted that the Institute cannot fill in any of the 04 seats with general category students, as there are no guidelines by the Ministry of Education with regard to filling up of vacant seats in EWS category.

He relied upon the letter dated 2nd December, 2021 addressed to the Additional Solicitor General of India Devang Vyas by the Under Secretary to the Government of India, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Department of Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade Design and NIDs (IPR-V) Section stating that there is no information with the Department about filling-up of vacant seats in EWS category.

The Court directed the institute to grant provisional admission. It also rejected a request by the Institute to stay the order for a week. The Court noted, "Learned advocate Mr. Gandhi at this juncture prays to stay the operation of this order for one week. However, considering the facts of the case and more particularly, the averments made in the affidavit filed today to the effect that the petitioners would lose the precious time if they are not allowed to pursue their study as respondent-Premier Institute is imparting the studies on weekly basis and therefore, in such circumstances, the aforesaid direction is required to be issued and therefore, the prayer for stay is rejected."

The Court then asked the lawyer to communicate the order to its client Institute and directed students to file undertakings about not claiming equity if their admission would be cancelled.

The Court posted the matter for further hearing on December 22, 2021.

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