NLSIU Bengaluru has made a submission to the Supreme Court unexpectedly stating that it would be implementing state-level domicile reservations from the 2021-22 academic year.
According to a note submitted to the apex court by NLSIU’s advocate-on-record Kumar Dushyant Singh:
4. Hence, inter alia reservation for Karnataka students will be implemented at the Respondent No.4 University from academic year 2021-22. The Respondent No.4 Universitybrings this matter to the attention of this Hon’ble Court for further consideration.
The decision is the result of a “NLSIU Inclusion and Expansion Plan 2021-2024”, which is was “developed… to deepen and increase diversity of its student body and facilitate greater access to various marginalized and/or underprivileged sections of society”, according to the note.
The plan “provides for additional reservation categories for admission to the Respondent No.4 University, including for Karnataka students”.
We have not been able to confirm further details at the moment and exactly what shape or form these reservations will take.
The move is particularly surprising since it had been NLSIU alumni that had challenged the Karnataka state reservation and won in the Karnataka high court, which the state government promptly appealed to the Supreme Court.
It is in this SLP that NLSIU has now stated that it would now be implementing reservations.
The surprisingly short notice that it would implement the state quota after all, also seems to go against the Karnataka high court judgment in the same case made on 29 September 2020.
In its Master Balachandar Krishnan vs The State Of Karnataka judgment, the court noted that once the admissions process had started, reservations could not be changed anymore since this would act to the detriment of students:
191. There is only one other aspect of the matter which requires consideration and that is the timing of the provision of the impugned reservation. On 01.01.2020, the announcement was made by the respondent/Consortium for conducting CLAT for the purpose of filling up of the seats of the National Law Schools which are members of the Consortium including the respondent/Law School.
Accordingly, the aspiring students have submitted their applications and have given their preferences. In the midst of the said process, in the last week of April 2020, the impugned reservation was provided by way of the Amendment Act. It is noted that when CLAT was announced on 01.01.2020, no provision was made for any reservation on the basis of domicile or institutional preference in Karnataka State, as has been pointed by the learned counsel for the petitioners.
After the passing of the impugned Amendment Act, the Consortium had to again announce for change of preference of colleges to be made by the students. The examination was to be conducted later as it had been postponed on account of the Corona virus-COVID-19 pandemic and the consequent lockdown ordered by the Central Government and State Governments with effect from the midnight of 25th March 2020.
Thus, when the process of admission had already commenced, the provision of reservation in the respondent/Law School could not have been altered. Even though, it is a provision for the benefit of Karnataka students, one cannot lose sight of the fact that the same is detrimental to the students who do not fulfill the eligibility criteria provided by the impugned Amendment.
As a result, these students, who are more meritorious than the students of Karnataka as defined by the impugned Amendment would be displaced.