The Supreme Court today directed that the Maharashtra government's 'best 5' rule would apply to both SSC and ICSE students of the state for admission to class XI during the present academic year and stayed a portion of the Bombay High Court order which had quashed the rule.
The apex court's interim order paves the way for the Maharashtra government and the state's Secondary and Higher Education Board to go ahead with the admissions process for the 5,000-odd junior colleges in the state.
An estimated 16 lakh SSC (Secondary School Certificate) and 10,000 ICSE students are vying for admission in various junior colleges of the state.
The state board had this year come out with a new rule according to which marks obtained in five subjects by SSC students would be considered -- out of the six subjects -- for the purpose of issuing the class X mark sheet. The subject in which a student had fared worst would be left out.
A bench of Justice V S Sirpurkar and Cyriac Joseph said ICSE students should be allowed to choose the 'best 5' subjects from among the Group I and II subjects only.
It, however, said if ICSE students did not want to opt for the 'best of 5' rule they could stick to the earlier rule of calculating the aggregate of all seven subjects for the purpose of admission.
Earlier, the Bombay High Court had quashed the 'best of 5' rule, saying it discriminated against students from other boards such as the Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE) and Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and also directed that the online admission process for class XI start immediately. By the order, the High Court had stayed the admissions process which had begun on June 25.
The apex court bench, however, issued a notice to a batch of ICSE students and their parents-teachers forum on the special leave petition filed by the state and the board challenging the Bombay High Court's judgement quashing the 'best 5' rule.
The Maharashtra government submitted before the apex court that the verdict needed to be set aside as it affected the interest of over 16 lakh students who graduated under the SSC syllabus.
The decision to adopt such a rule was taken because the SSC board felt the ICSE and CBSE marking systems were more liberal and gave advantage to their students in the class X exam. But several ICSE students and parents challenged the system, saying the new SSC system is discriminatory and that the ICSE board be allowed to adopt the same system.
The apex court granted the students/parents to file their response within eight weeks and the state/board to file its rejoinder three weeks thereafter and posted the matter for further hearing to October.