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Anu Parthiban|Mar 20, 2023
AHMEDABAD: The Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad (IIMA) has opposed a public interest litigation (PIL) filed in the Gujarat High Court seeking reservation for PhD course, citing that operational freedom was an integral part of the institute's DNA.
Despite being a statutory body under the IIM Act, 2017, the IIMA continues to be an autonomous and independent institute with no funding from the government, the B-school said in an affidavit filed recently in response to the PIL. The matter came up for hearing before the division bench of Chief Justice Aravind Kumar and Justice Ashutosh Shastri on Monday.
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The institute opposed reservation for its PhD programme stating that it is a "super-specialised programme", and neither the Constitution of India nor any other law envisages reservation for courses/programmes at high levels of specialisation. The PIL, filed by one Global IIM Alumni Network, has challenged the absence of reservation in the PhD programme, which was earlier known as Fellow Programme in Management (FPM) course in IIMA.
"IIMA was set up as an institution that would be managed by a society, the IIMA Society, created under the Societies Registration Act ...IIMA was therefore conceived as a board-managed institution, free from the exclusive control of any one constituency. Thus, operational freedom is an integral part of the DNA of IIMA," it said. IIMA has consistently ranked as the premier management school in India, and its programmes are also ranked highly in several international rankings, it said. "In 2008, IIMA became the first management school in the country to be awarded EQUIS accreditation by the EFMD (European Foundation for Management Development)," it said.
The IIM Act of 2017, notified on January 11, 2018, declared IIMA and other IIMs as the Institutes of National Importance, and each IIM is separate, independent and autonomous body corporates, it said. "It is also required to be pointed out that all the IIMs governed by the IIM Act, continue to be independent and autonomous, governed by their Board of Governors...The overall superintendence, direction and control of the affairs of the institutes including the powers to frame policies/regulations lies with the BoG," it said.
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Though IIMA is now a statutory body after the enactment of the IIM Act, "it continues to be an autonomous and independent institute with no funding from the government", it said. The institute further claimed that there was no illegality or breach of the provisions of the Constitution of India or other statutes in not providing for any reservation in its PhD programme. Even the candidates from reserved category, by the time they reach the stage of applying for the PhD programmes, would have had the benefit of reservation policy at graduation and post graduation level courses, it said. "Therefore, the law does not mandate any further reservation for such high-level specialisation programmes," it said.
Reservation of seats is also not possible due to the smaller number of seats that may be available for programmes like PhD/FPM coupled with the fact that there was no fixed number of seats, it said. Such a reservation could be counterproductive and might lead to injustice to other eligible meritorious students, it said, adding that there is no feasibility of providing for reservation of seats, as the selection was completely merit based. "There is no violation of the provisions of Central Education Institution (Reservation in Admission) Act, 2006 or Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016," it further said.
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