Bombay HC invalidates clause on income limit for foreign scholarships

Foreign Scholarships — Highlighting the necessity to rectify imbalances and ensure fairness in educational opportunities, the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court delivered a significant ruling on May 8, 2024 by striking down a controversial government clause, Clause D(2) in the Government Resolution issued by the State Government of Maharashtra on June 27, 2017. The decision is going to have a significant bearing  on the necessity of preserving the original intent of scholarship programmes that aim at supporting backward caste students in accessing higher education. The High Court ruled that despite discussions proposing a revision to a maximum family income of ₹8 lakh, no formal amendment was enacted, leaving the 2017 resolution intact.

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The bench highlighted Clause D(2) that exempted students admitted to the top 100 QS World University Ranking institutions from the income criteria, which leads to financially stable students availing benefits intended for economically deprived candidates, thus distorting the purpose of the scholarship scheme.

How It Came to Limelight!

The ruling was prompted by a writ petition filed by a 28-year-old student from Nagpur, named Mayur Sanghrakshit Patil. The boy challenged the unfairness of the clause and its adverse impact on economically disadvantaged students like him. Hailing from the Scheduled Caste (SC) category, Mayur argued against the implication of the clause, citing his financial constraints in pursuing higher education abroad. According to news agency PTI, Patil’s annual family income of ₹2,78,000 placed him within the lower income bracket.

Despite being selected for a program at Duke University in the USA, he faced difficulties in obtaining a scholarship loan due to financial constraints, depriving him of his right to education. He stated that the benefit of sc scheme is availed by students who are economically stable and can themselves make expenses to seek education abroad.

The petitioner also submitted information on students and the income of their guardians. The court noted that the provided information portrayed a dismal scenario as students whose guardians have substantial income and are well-placed in life have been granted the benefit of the scholarship, which defeats the very purpose of the scheme that was brought into force to grant benefits to students who could not afford higher education abroad.

Scrutiny of Clause D(2)

The court’s scrutiny revealed the discrepancy in clause D(2), which exempted students admitted to the top 100 QS World Ranking institutions from the income criteria. This exemption led to financially stable students availing benefits intended for economically deprived candidates. Additionally, the court observed that the government had an inconsistent stance on income criteria, with revisions being made due to factors such as COVID-19. Despite discussions on proposing a revision to a maximum family income of ₹8 lakh, no formal amendment was made in the 2017 resolution. 

The verdict stressed the necessity of preserving the original intent of the scholarship programmes aimed at supporting backward caste students in accessing higher education. 

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Finally, the Nagpur bench directed the authorities to reassess Patil’s scholarship application within two weeks, considering the implications of the ruling. This landmark decision is expected to bring relief and renewed hope to countless financially deprived students aspiring to pursue their higher education abroad.

FAQs

Who is Mayur Sanghrakshit Patil?

A: Mayur Sanghrakshit Patil is a 28-year-old student from Nagpur who has recently filed a petition against the imbalances caused by Clause D(2) in the Government Resolution issued in the 2017 by the State Government of Maharashtra. Mayur highlighted his inability in securing loans for pursuing studies abroad due to its unfairness of the clause and adverse impact it posed on economically disadvantaged students.

When did the Nagpur Bench deliver its decision?

A: The Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court delivered its decision on May 8, 2024.

What is QS University Ranking?

A: The QS World University Rankings is a set of comparative college and university rankings compiled by Quacquarelli Symonds, a higher education analytics firm. They measure the reputation  and rankings of universities based on experts’ impressions, companies who hire graduates, and teaching quality. QS also considers the ratio of international teachers and students, as well as research papers and rates them accordingly.

When was Clause D(2) enacted?

A: The Maharashtra government resolution enacted Clause D(2) on June 27, 2017.

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How did the court respond to the petition by Mayur Sanghrakshit Patil?

A: The Bombay High Court nullified Clause D(2) after scrutinising its practical implications. The court has also directed authorities to reassess the scholarship application of Mayur Sanghrakshit Patil.

Will the verdict of the High Court have an impact on the outcome of scholarship loan application?

A: The verdict of the High Court will certainly have a cascading impact on the outcome of scholarship loan application, particularly for those meritorious students who have secured admission in foreign universities but find themselves unable to secure necessary funds from the Indian banks.

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