Delhi University (DU) and St Stephen’s College have been at loggerheads over the varsity’s new admission policy since April this year. While DU’s new admission policy does away with the interview component and mandates only the Common University Entrance Test (CUET) score for admissions to 50% unreserved seats (general seats), St Stephen’s insists on holding interviews with 15% weightage for both Christian and general category candidates. With the Delhi high court barring the Christian minority college from holding interviews for non-Christian students earlier this week, ambiguity prevails over the college’s next move.
Prevailing admission procedure at St Stephen’s
According to the prevailing policy, 50% of seats in minority colleges are reserved for students belonging to the community which runs the institution. St Stephen’s is the only college in DU that conducts interviews for admitting students. In April, the college issued a circular stating that it will provide admissions based on the 85:15 (CUET: interview) formula for all seat categories, triggering the ongoing tussle with the university. Subsequently, Delhi University wrote to St Stephen’s College, informing the minority institution that it will declare ‘’null and void’’ all admissions made by it in violation of the CUET guidelines after the college released a prospectus reiterating it will admit students for undergraduate courses while sticking to its stated 85:15 weightage formula for both minority and general candidates.
Stephen’s stance on retention of interview
Refusing to do away with the interview process for all candidates, St Stephen’s College pointed out in May that the Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court in 1992 had stated “St Stephen’s, as a Christian minority institution, has its own admission procedures approved by the highest court in the land and guaranteed by the Constitution of India.”
DU’s opposition to interviews for unreserved seats
Delhi University stated that the introduction of a standardised common entrance test, CUET, has changed the circumstances under which the college previously conducted interviews for all students in all categories. DU said the Supreme Court judgement from 1992 was passed in the context of admissions conducted through qualifying examination marks of “different institutions of different standards” and did not have relevance with the introduction of CUET which was a standardised nationalised common entrance test.
Delhi high court rules in favour of DU
While ruling that special rights of minority institutions cannot be extended to their non-minority students, the Delhi high court this week directed St Stephen’s College to admit non-Christian undergraduate students on the basis of the DU’s admission policy that makes CUET score the sole criteria for admission. The court barred the Christian minority college from holding interviews for non-Christian students.
The court said that while the college retains its authority to conduct interviews in addition to the CUET for the admission of students belonging to the minority community, it cannot devise a policy that forces the non-minority community to undergo an interview as well. The court also directed the college to withdraw its prospectus and issue a fresh one with the amended provisions.
Will St. Stephen’s appeal against the HC order?
While the CUET-UG results were declared on Thursday and Delhi University has also initiated its admission process, St Stephen’s is yet to issue a fresh prospectus with amended provisions as mandated by the high court. The college has not issued any statement or clarified if it plans to appeal against the order. Amid ambiguity on the college’s part, Delhi University is continuing with the admission process as planned.
DU vice chancellor Yogesh Singh said the university had a very clear stand from the beginning that the college cannot conduct interviews for general category students in violation of DU’s admission policy. “We won the case and hence, St Stephen’s will be required to admit non-minority students through CUET only. Our stand has been accepted by the court so admission to general seats will take place completely on the basis of CUET alone,” said Singh.
He added that if the matter were to reach Supreme Court, the university would proceed as per the developments.