Refusing to pass any interim order seeking the quashing of the "normalisation procedure" for admission to the NITs, a bench of Justice H.L. Dattu and Justice Dipak Misra said the court will consider whether the government's education policy could be challenged in the public interest litigation invoking Article 32 of the constitution.
Holding that the policy makers should have the freedom to experiment and that it did not intend to interfere with the government's admission policy for the NITs, the court issued notice to the central government and the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) only on the point whether the admission policy could be challenged under the article.
Article 32 of the constitution provides for the right to move the Supreme Court by appropriate proceedings for the enforcement of the rights conferred under part III of the constitution enunciating fundamental rights.
Appearing for the aggrieved students, senior counsel U.U. Lalit told the court the department of higher education by its notification of Aug 14, 2012, had clearly specified that admission to NITs would be based on a "normalization procedure".
Under this, 40 percent weightage was given for a student's performance in Class 12 board examination and 60 percent weightage was given to the performance in the joint entrance examination (main).
The court was told that this position was maintained by the CBSE in its press release of Sep 7, 2012 and the information bulletin published in 2012.
However, after the publication of the result of JEE (Main) in May, the CBSE changed the admission criterion which completely changed the basis for determining all India rank of the students.
The students said this change in the admission criteria after the results of the JEE (Main) 2013 were declared had no "logical basis and is arbitrary and violative of Article 14 of the constitution".
Thirty NITs admit 25,000 students annually. The court gave four weeks to the central government and the CBSE to file their response, and another two weeks to the petitioners to file their rejoinder.