Shreyas Sinha v. The West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences & Ors.
CIVIL APPEAL NO. 3085 OF 2020.
Decided on 09.09.2020
Bench: L. Nageswara Rao, Hemant Gupta, S. Ravindra Bhat, JJ
Facts: The appellant filed a writ petition in the High Court of Calcutta praying for issuance of directions to admit him in the BA.LL.B (Hons.) programme in West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences (University) for the academic year commencing in 2019-20 under the general category with the West Bengal domicile in view of the provisions of West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences (Amendment) Act, 2018 (Amending Act) which came into force on 21.05.2019. The Amendment provided for reservation of seats for students domiciled in the State of West Bengal to the extent of at least 30 percent of the total intake of the University. The appellant had obtained 731 All India Rank in the CLAT examination for which advertisement was published on 05.01.2019 and the examination was held on 26.05.2019 which was earlier scheduled to be held on 14.05.2019.
The Single Judge bench of the High Court and later the Division Bench of the High Court dismissed the writ petition. Hence, the present appeal in the Supreme Court challenging the order of the Division Bench of the Calcutta High Court.
Issue: Whether the provisions of the Amendment Act would apply to the admission process which had already commenced on the basis of seat matrix furnished in the admission brochure much prior to the coming in force of the Amending Act?
Arguments of the appellant:
The appellant argued that the Amending Act had come into force at once, and the CLAT-2019 was held after coming into force of the Amending Act. Hence, the University was bound to provide reservation as per the Amending Act to students who are domicile of West Bengal.
Arguments of the respondent:
The respondents contended that the Amending Act is prospective and cannot be made applicable in respect of the admission process which had already commenced from January 2019 where the seat matrix along with the other information regarding CLAT was already uploaded. The exercise of admission was started before the Amending Act came into force. Therefore, University had rightly decided to give the benefit of reservation in terms of the Amending Act from the next academic year.
The court held that, the Amending Act has come in force after the admission process was started and therefore, applying the Amending Act would amount to changing the rules of the game after the start of the admission process. There is no provision or mandate in the Amending Act that it will apply to the ongoing admission process for the year of 2019-2020. The Act is silent in respect of Academic Year in which the benefit of reservation is to be given.
The Court further noted that, for the admission process of the CLAT-2019 the candidates had already given the choices in their application forms keeping in view the reservation policy of each state. The reservation policy of 30% seats was not available on the date when the admission process was initiated, therefore, the decision of the University to provide reservation from the next Academic Year cannot be said to be contradictory to the provisions of the Amending Act.
Accordingly, the appeal was dismissed.