The Supreme Court Wednesday came to the rescue of an 18-year-old student by directing the IIT Bombay to grant interim admission to him in an engineering course after he inadvertently lost his seat by clicking on a wrong link in the online admission process.
Siddhant Batra, who hails from Agra, had lost his seat for the four-year electrical engineering course in the prestigious IIT Bombay after he “inadvertently” clicked on a “wrong” link which was meant to withdraw from the process.
A bench headed by Justice S K Kaul took note of the submissions of lawyer Pralhad Paranjpe on behalf of the student and asked the IIT Bombay to grant provisional admission to him.
The bench, also comprising Justices Dinesh Maheshwari and Hrishikesh Roy, issued notice to the prestigious institution and fixed the plea of Siddhant for hearing after winter break. Paranjpe said the admission would be subject to the final decision of the apex court on the plea of the student. The plea was filed in the apex court after the Bombay High Court dismissed the petition by noting the submissions of the IIT that it cannot intervene at this stage as all the seats for the course were full and moreover, the admission rules had to be followed.
It had said Siddhant could apply again next year for JEE (Advanced). The High Court had initially directed the IIT to consider Siddhant’s petition after he approached it, as a representation and pass appropriate orders. Siddhant, who had secured All India Rank (AIR) of 270 in JEE Advanced exams and secured admission, claimed in his plea that he had clicked the wrong link which was meant to withdraw his seat.
He intended to freeze the seat, the plea said. On November 23, a division bench of the high court dismissed his petition noting that IIT had considered his representation and passed its order.
In his petition to the top court, the student has sought a direction to the IIT to consider his case on humanitarian grounds, and requested creation of an additional seat to undo his loss. Siddhant, who lives with his grandparents following the death of his parents, in the plea said he had worked hard against all odds to crack IIT JEE exams.
The petition said he had lost his father when he was a child and was brought up by his mother who died in 2018.
As per his plea, while filling out the admission process online, he came upon a page with ‘freeze’ option, which he thought meant confirming the seat and the completion of his admission process. “On October 31, 2020, when he was surfing the IIT portal to check for further updates, he came upon a link which carried a declaration that read ‘I would like to withdraw from the seat allocation process of JoSAA (Joint Seat Allocation Authority’,” the petition said.
In November 2020, when the final list of students was uploaded on the IIT portal, his name was not included. The IIT, in its order, however, said the withdrawal option was a “conscious” two-step process. It said candidates who want to withdraw before the final round can do so and the ‘seat acceptance fee’ gets refunded, adding that once a candidate has withdrawn then his or her seat stands cancelled