The Delhi High Court on Thursday cleared the decks for the two DU colleges to stick to their earlier admission process in seats reserved for minority students. As per the court candidates seeking admission to undergraduate courses in St. Stephen's and Jesus and Mary (J&M) colleges will face interviews that carry 15% weightage in the admission norms this year.
In an interim order, the high court said that "prima facie", Delhi University and UGC's decision that the scores of the Common University Entrance Test would exclusively determine admission qualification ignored an earlier court ruling. A bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad noted "a complete lack of reasoning as to why the judgment of this court has been given a go-by by the respondents (DU and UGC) and indicates non-application of mind on their part".
The court was hearing applications by the two minority colleges for a stay on the December 8, 2022, decision of DU's Executive Council insisting on 100% weightage to CUET 2023 scores for admission to the colleges, even for students applying under the minority quota.
The court pointed out that in an earlier decision, it had already discussed the extent to which DU could regulate the admission of minority students and ruled that St. Stephen's College had the right to conduct interviews with 15% weightage for minority students, but not for non-minority students.
"Despite this observation made by this court in the aforesaid judgment, the Executive Council in its meeting dated 08.12.2022 has decided that for the academic session 2023-24, admission to the undergraduate programmes shall solely be on the basis of CUET for minority seats also," the verdict said, noting that if the court didn't intervene now, the two colleges would suffer "irreparable loss".
As an interim measure, the bench directed that "the admission policy as framed by this court vide judgment dated 12.09.2022 shall be followed for the academic year 2023-24 and that St. Stephen's College will adopt the marks secured in the CUET with 85% weightage for CUET and the college's interview for shortlisted candidates with a weightage of 15% for Christian minority candidates."
Senior advocate A. Mariarputham and advocate Romy Chacko appeared for the petitioning colleges. Senior advocate Arun Bhardwaj appeared for petitioner Sharon Ann George.
Holding that the rights accorded to a minority institution under the Constitution couldn't be extended to non-minorities, the high court had directed St. Stephen's on September 12 last year to give 100% weightage to the CUET score while admitting non-minority students in its undergraduate courses.
It had, however, said the college had the prerogative to conduct interviews in addition to CUET to admit students belonging to the Christian community but could not force non-minority candidates to take an interview.
Earlier this year, St. Stephen's challenged the DU notification on CUET scores, contending that as a minority educational institution, it couldn't be deprived of its right to select students for admission and administer the college.
A declaration was also sought that the decision of DU insisting on 100 per cent weightage for CUET score for admission to minority quota is against Article 30 of the Constitution.
The plea makes reference to a High Court ruling from September 12, 2022, which stated that while St. Stephens College is still allowed to conduct interviews in addition to the CUET for the admission of students from minority communities, it is not allowed to create a policy that compels non-minority communities to do the same.