Supreme Court raps IIT admission authority’s ‘wooden’ approach

Orders IIT Bombay to allot seat to Dalit boy, who could not pay fee due to banking error, in 48 hours

The Supreme Court on Monday flexed its extraordinary powers to render justice to a student belonging to the Scheduled Castes community who was denied his seat in IIT Bombay due to a banking error while paying his advance fee for the course.

A Bench led by Justice D.Y. Chandrachud said there are times when the court has to go beyond the written rigours of the law to deliver justice, and this was just such a case.

The court refused to heed submissions by authorities that the case would become a wrong precedent and it was too late in the day to find a seat for Singh now in any of the IITs.

The court admonished the Joint Seat Allocation Authority (JOSAA) of being ‘wooden’ in its approach to what was a humanitarian cause.

“You better do something for this young man… You cannot leave him in a lurch. You can do everything if it fits you,” Justice Chandrachud spoke sternly.

The court said it was only common sense that the young man, who is from Ghaziabad in Uttar Pradesh, fought against the odds to accomplish his cherished dreams. It said there is no doubt Singh did his best to pay and could not do so due to the technical glitch. It was not his fault he did not pay the fee to confirm his seat on time.

“Which student would get into IIT Bombay and not pay the ₹50,000 fee? It is obvious that he had some financial problems. You have to look at what the reality on the ground is — the reality of our social life,” Justice Chandrachud, accompanied by Justice A.S. Bopanna, said.

The court said admissions to premier institutes like the IITs should be “more robust” and take into consideration the fact that many students come from small towns and villages where the banking facilities are minimal. Not everybody can be expected to have multiple credit cards. At times, bank may not respond.

“There has to be some buffer for students facing insurmountable hurdles or only children from metros would go to IITs,” Justice Chandrachud said.

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