Reservation norms were not followed by the Kerala-based KR Narayanan National Institute of Visual Sciences and Arts (KRNNIVSA), documents accessed by South First showed.
The institute’s administration, during the admission process for 2021 and 2022, threw the norms into the wind, leading to certain departments having students solely from the General category.
Even among the students who received admission from marginalised communities, many were already qualified for admission in merit seats.
Shockingly, vacant seats meant for students from marginalised communities were also allotted to students from the General category.
On Saturday, Day 13 of the strike at the KRNNIVSA demanding the resignation of the institute’s director Shankar Mohan, an enquiry commission visited the campus to examine the allegations made by the students.
A series of documents put forth by the students before the commission exposed various irregularities in the Institute.
The ideal procedure
The LBS Centre for Science and Technology in Thiruvananthapuram, an organisation under the Kerala government, is responsible for holding entrance tests to the film Institute based in Kottayam.
As part of the process for admissions, students who appeared for the entrance test are short-listed based on the cut-off marks obtained.
The aspirants who qualify for the entrance examinations have to go through a three-day process, which includes an interview. The seats are allotted based solely on the interview and the three-day programme.
The LBS Centre carries out the final admission, adhering to the reservations.
According to the prospectus of the institute, which is available in the public domain, an equal proportion of reserved and non-reserved seats should be allotted to students.
Of the 50 percent seats that should go to students from marginalised communities, 10 percent is reserved for those from EWS (Economically Weaker Sections), 30 percent for Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC), 8 percent of the seats for students from Scheduled Caste (SC) communities, and 2 percent for Scheduled Tribe (ST) communities.
What happened instead
In 2021, an entrance examination was conducted by the institute administration. However, the admission process was not completed that year.
In 2022, yet another entrance test was held, in which a combined 265 students were selected and 133 students were invited to the institute for an interview as well as the programme.
However, the institute administration requested the LBS Centre to create a list of students for admission with new cut-off marks.
The LBS Centre objected. It wrote to the institute director that its representative “visited your institute and handed over an allotment list” on 5 July. It was on this day that KRNNIVSA allegedly asked it “to prepare a new list with certain cut-off marks”.
The LBS Centre representative reportedly objected to the new cut-off marks, since it was not included in the prospectus, and because it could lead to complaints from candidates at a later stage.
On 2 August, the institute instructed the LBS Centre in a letter to prepare a new list based on the recommendations of its “Academic Committee”.
This, according to the students, violated all the reservation norms, which led to the denial of admission to numerous students from marginalised communities.
‘Blatant violation of reservation norms’
“When such arbitrary decisions are taken, the LBS Centre cannot provide a list adhering to reservation norms as many students from the marginalised communities were already removed from the list,” said Sreedev, the Students’ Council chairperson from the film institute.
“This led to all of the 10 students who got admission in the Direction Department being from the general category,” he alleged.
“Only one student from an SC applied for admission to the Editing Department, and his name was not included in the new list made by the Institute,” added Sreedev.
Sarath, the student who did not get admission, went to court, which in its interim order asked the institute to provide him admission.
Yet another serious discrepancy in following the reservation process was that most of the students who were admitted from the marginalised communities were eligible for admission in the merit seats, and the reservation seats were allotted to students from the General category.
One document, a copy of which is in possession of South First, suggests that all four students from marginalised communities who got admission to the Acting Department were eligible to get admissions in the merit category.
Regarding the Direction Department admissions, the Student Council has already posed questions to the Institute administration about why all 10 who were given admission were from the General category. However, the institute has not provided any explanation.
South First contacted the institute director for his response, but the calls were unanswered.
Earlier, in an exclusive interview with South First, Institute chairman Adoor Gopalakrishnan said the allegations against the institute administration by the students of KRNNIVSA were “blatant lies” and defended the director, stating that he intends to bring “discipline” to the institute.