‘Can students of transitional area be deprived of rural quota benefit?’

Can students be deprived of the benefit of seeking admission to professional courses under the rural category reservation as a result of declaration of a rural area into “transitional area” by the government under the municipal laws?

The question cropped up before the High Court of Karnataka as a student, who studied for 10 years in a school at Vittla kasaba village in Bantwal taluk of Dakshina Kannada district, knocked on the doors of the court after the Block Educational Officer (BEO) refused to countersign a rural study certificate.

Petitioner D. Adarsha Bhat wanted the certificate to claim admission to engineering course under rural category of government quota seats through the Karnataka Examinations Authority (KEA).

The BEO refused to sign the proforma of certificate as the government notified Vittla as a “transitional area” in 2015. The petitioner had studied in the school between 2008 and 2018 but the status of Vittla was changed in 2015 from “rural area” to “transitional area”.

Due to denial of certificate, the petitioner was unable to upload the relevant documents on KEA website for claiming rural quota seat in seat selection process based on ranking secured in Common Entrance Test.

A Division Bench comprising Justice B.V. Nagarathna and Justice Ravi V Hosmani, in its interim order directed the BEO (Bantwal Block) to sign the proforma of rural study certificate submitted by the petitioner to enable him to upload to KEA. However, the Bench made it clear that the interim order would be subject to the final result of the petition.

As the law requires continuous study for 10 years in rural area to claim seat under rural category, the petitioner claimed that the he could not claim reservation due to no fault of him as Vittla was changed to “transitional area” to treat the area only as “deemed to be a municipal area” in law without there being any change in ground reality or rural nature, and in the absence of clear declaration as an urban area.

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