Published: 30th August 2022
St Stephen's College admission criteria: Matter heard at Delhi HC again
A Bench headed by Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma concluded hearing submissions by the parties on the petitions by a law student in this regard
The Delhi High Court has once again reserved its judgement on St Stephen's admission criteria. On August 30, pleas concerning issues about the admission procedure at the Delhi University affiliated college were heard in the court.
A Bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad concluded hearing submission by the parties on the petitions by a law student in this regard. The student, Konika Poddar, had filed a PIL and sought that St Stephen's College be directed to take admission for its 'unreserved seats' based on marks received by students in the Common University Entrance Test (CUET) only.
DU supported the PIL and said that the reliefs sought by the petitioner are appropriate and warranted and, therefore, the plea may be allowed. In its affidavit, the university said that the law is well settled that aided minority educational institutions cannot admit students under the 'unreserved category' as per its "own whims and fancies", as per a PTI report.
DU also contended that St Stephen's College could not be allowed to bring in "subjectivity bias and discrimination" by conducting interviews with students of non-minority communities. However, the claim was denied by the college on the ground that it follows the same procedure for admission of all students.
Additionally, the college had earlier challenged DU's letter, asking it to withdraw its prospectus that gave 85 per cent weightage to the CUET and the rest 15 per cent weightage to the college interview for admission to its unreserved seats in UG courses.
St Stephen's College has maintained that the admission process adopted by it is purely based on merit. It has challenged that its right to select students for admission as per its own procedure was upheld by the Supreme Court when it was permitted to adopt interviews as one of the criteria for admission to undergraduate courses for both the general and minority categories.
In its affidavit, St Stephen's stated, "The college follows the very same procedure for admission for both minority and non-minority students. Eighty five per cent marks are allotted for CUET and fifteen per cent marks for the interview. The interview is to be conducted by a committee consisting of the Principal, Head of the Department, and a member of the Supreme Council of the college who is also a member of the Governing Body of the college."
"The procedure followed by the college is consistent with minority rights granted by the Constitution of India to minority institutions and is used to promote world-class education in India through St Stephen's College. There was no misuse or maladministration of the interview at any point of time and so allegations to the contrary are hereby denied," the petition reads further, as per PTI.
Responding to the PIL, the college said that the petitioner has no locus standi, as she is a law student pursuing a first-year LLB course in the varsity and the college is not offering any course in law. Therefore, in no way was the petitioner concerned with the admission procedure adopted by it, St Stephen's argued.
On the other hand, the PIL highlighted that the Academic Council, in its meeting on March 22, 2022, had accepted the recommendations of its standing committee vis-a-vis CUET as a basis for admission in undergraduate courses from the academic year 2022-23 onwards for all its colleges including its minority colleges like St Stephen's College and also said that there would be a separate merit list for the unreserved seats in minority colleges, where admission would be done based only on the marks of CUET.
"On April 20, the college refused to follow the instructions of Delhi University and issued a press release and admission notice stating that the college will conduct interviews for both reserved and unreserved seats and give 15 per cent weightage to interview and 85 per cent weightage to CUET marks at the time of admission in its undergraduate courses," the plea said.
It was filed through advocate Akash Vajpai. The plea sought direction to the Delhi University to implement its admission policy for the academic year 2022-23, approved by its Academic and Executive Council, in true letter and spirit vis-a-vis unreserved seats of minority colleges in undergraduate courses, as per PTI.
However, the High Court had then refused to stay the university's letter on withdrawal of the college prospectus for the academic year 2022-23.