Follow DU policy for admission to non-minority seats, no interviews: HC runs St Stephen’s

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New Delhi: Finding that the rights granted to a minority institution under the Constitution cannot be extended to non-minorities, the Delhi High Court on Monday ordered St Stephen’s College to follow the admissions policy formulated by the University of Delhi and to give 100% weighting to the CUET-2022 score while granting admission to non-minority students in its undergraduate courses.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma said the college had the power to conduct interviews, in addition to the Common University Entrance Test (CUET), for the admission of Christian students, but that he could not force non-minority candidates to undergo an interview in addition.

The bench, while asking St Stephen’s to withdraw its prospectus giving a 15% weighting to “the interview” for admission to these unreserved seats, in addition to considering an applicant’s CUET score, however ruled that the DU “cannot insist on a single merit list for the admission of candidates belonging to the Christian community regardless of denomination, etc.”

The court order came following motions filed by a law student and the college regarding the legality of the student admissions process against non-minority unreserved seats for UG courses.

The court observed that the purpose of CUET was to “normalize and make the assessment process uniform” by providing a “level playing field” for students to prove their merit in the context of the varying standards of different school boards and, therefore, by conducting an “on and above interview, CUET has the potential to introduce subjectivity and bias into the admissions process, thereby eroding the very purpose for which CUET is brought into play.”

“The court is of the view that if the requesting college retains its authority to conduct interviews in addition to CUET for the admission of students from the minority community, it cannot design a policy that requires the non-minority community to undergo an interview as well. Therefore, the right of the requesting college to conduct interviews and give them a 15% weighting for the purpose of admitting students does not extend to non-minority students and pertains only to its minority students”, the court said. .

“The requesting college is therefore requested to follow the admissions policies for the year 2022-2023 as formulated by respondent No. 1 (DU). Furthermore, in accordance with the subsequent communication of 24.05.2022, the requesting college must withdraw its admission prospectus and issue a public notice declaring the amended admission procedure,” he added.

The college, represented by lead attorney Kapil Sibal, had challenged the DU’s letter asking it to withdraw its prospectus, which gave an 85% weighting to CUET and 15% to the college interview for admission to their non-reserved places in the UG courses.

The other applicant, law student Konika Poddar, who was represented by senior attorney Arun Bhardwaj and attorney Akash Vajpai, had asked the college to conduct the admissions process for its “unreserved seats” only on the basis of students’ CUET grades.

The college had argued that being a minority institution it had the right to select students for admission according to its own procedure and the Supreme Court allowed it to adopt the interview as one of the criteria for admission. admission to UG courses for general courses and minority categories.

In its 95-page order, the court held that Article 30(1) of the Constitution, which grants minorities the right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice, is not absolute and that the state has the right to formulate regulations concerning its administration insofar as it serves the interest of that community and prevents maladministration.

While the protection provided in section 30(1) may be extended to allow a minority institution to subclass the reserve granted to the minority community, a minority assisted educational institution affiliated with a university must follow the standards and the proceedings of this university, the court added.

“The purpose of granting special protection as a minority right under Article 30 is to ensure equality between the majority and the minorities. This right is, however, subject to Article 29 , paragraph 2, which provides that no citizen may be denied admission to an educational institution operated by the State or receiving financial assistance from the State solely on grounds of religion, race, caste, language or one of them.

“These two fundamental rights were reconciled by the Supreme Court in noting that a supported minority educational institution would not lose its minority character if it admitted non-minority students and therefore would manage to preserve both the article 29 (2) and Article 30 (1)”, he observed.

“This tribunal respectfully disagrees with the assertion of scholar ASG (Chetan Sharma for DU) that a single merit list for candidates belonging to the Christian community, regardless of denominations or sub-sects or sub-categories in the within the minority Christian community, Such protection would run counter to judicial rulings on the current subject and would not be within reasonable limits and would not further the right of the minority community itself as it would impair the right of ‘a minority institution under Article 30(1),’ he said.

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