Courtesy Supreme Court’s push, this Dalit scholar strikes nearer to his IIT dream

“I strongly felt that my grievance was genuine,” mentioned Prince, who turns 18 on November 25.

Barely two generations in the past, his household tilled the land of others, struggling on the lowest rung of the social ladder in Uttar Pradesh’s Shamli district. So it hardly got here as a shock to his household that he would depart no stone unturned to safe that IIT seat.

On Monday, a Supreme Court bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud and A S Bopanna directed the Joint Seat Allocation Authority (JoSAA), which manages and regulates the admissions, to allot a seat to Prince. The bench mentioned “it would be a great travesty of justice if the young Dalit student is denied admission for non-payment of fees”.

Invoking Article 142, which permits the apex court docket to go orders as is critical to make sure “complete justice” in a pending matter, the bench requested the authorities to deal with the case “with a humanitarian approach” and identified “only bureaucracy” was standing in the best way.

Speaking to The Indian Express, Prince mentioned: “I grew up listening to my father narrating the travails and oppression that our ancestors had to face. Education ensured that he could move to the city and get a job in Delhi Police as a constable. He ensured the best quality education for me and my elder brother and three sisters. With education comes self-respect and a life of dignity.”

Prince’s mom, Asha Devi, mentioned: “Kaafi toot gaye thhe hum log. Ab bahut accha lag raha hai (We were shattered. Now it’s feeling great).”

A resident of UP’s Ghaziabad, Prince secured an All India Rank of 25,894 and Scheduled Caste rank 864 in JEE Advanced 2021. It was his second try, and he was allotted a seat at IIT-Bombay’s civil engineering department.

“The admission process requires a candidate to submit medical certificates. Obtaining that took some time. On October 29, I uploaded the documents on the JoSAA portal. On the next day, my elder sister, who works as a clerk with India Post, transferred Rs 15,000, which is the acceptance fee. However, the JOSAA portal kept showing error messages as I tried to pay. That day I had vaccine-induced fever, too, forcing me to go to sleep early,” Prince mentioned.

“On the morning of October 31, I went to a cyber cafe and tried repeatedly to pay but the same error messages came up and I missed the noon deadline,” he mentioned.

At 12.29 pm, Prince despatched an e-mail to JoSAA, describing the rationale behind his incapability to pay the charges to IIT Kharagpur, which had organised the JEE Advanced this 12 months. “I made several calls, too. But October 31 being a Sunday, no one picked up. A few hours later, accompanied by my father Jaibir Singh, I left for Kolkata by flight, and then took a train to Kharagpur,” Prince mentioned.

“The next day, we reached the campus by 9 am, but the authorities expressed their inability to make any intervention and find a solution. While returning, on the train itself I decided to approach the court…Initially, we thought of approaching the Allahabad High Court as we are residents of UP, but then a lawyer suggested that we knock on the doors of the Bombay High Court,” he mentioned.

After the Bombay High Court dismissed his petition, Prince, by his father, moved the Supreme Court.

After clearing Class 10 from Fatima Convent School in Ghaziabad, Prince took admission in Delhi Public School (Meerut Road) on a benefit scholarship primarily based on his matriculation marks and cleared Class 12 by scoring 95.6 per cent. “I could not have studied in DPS without the scholarship,” he mentioned.

Since his 2020 JEE superior rank was “not good enough” to land him a berth on the “old IITs”, he took admission at Motilal Nehru National Institute of Technology, Allahabad.

“But I kept preparing for JEE Advanced also. I did not take regular coaching, but signed up for a month-long crash course offered by Bansal Classes,” he mentioned.

Pointing out that considered one of his sisters is pursuing a commencement in arithmetic, Prince mentioned: “Education can help us move ahead in life. My ancestors tilled on the land of others. Education helped my father move from the village to the city. Personally, I did not face any taunts over my Dalit identity, but I know it remains a lived reality for many, particularly in rural areas.”