Delhi HC Asks St Stephen College’s to Respond to Plea for Admission to Unreserved Seats via CUET

The Delhi High Court Wednesday sought the response of St. Stephen’s College and Delhi University on a plea seeking direction to the college to take admission on its ‘unreserved seats’ in undergraduate courses only based on marks received by students in the Common University Entrance Test (CUET), as mandated by the varsity. A bench of Acting Chief Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Sachin Datta issued notice to St. Stephen’s College, Delhi University, and University Grants Commission (UGC) on the petition filed by a law student. The court listed the matter for further hearing on July 6.

The plea filed by Konika Poddar said her petition is for the cause of several students who aspire to study in Delhi University’s St Stephen’s College and would be appearing in CUET in near future. The plea said the Academic Council in its meeting on March 22, 2022, 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 there will be separate merit list for the unreserved seats in minority colleges where admission will be done only on the marks of CUET.

It said that on April 5, the varsity issued its admission policy for the academic year 2022-23, and on its last page of the Bulletin of Information it specifically mentioned that admission to the unreserved seats in its minority colleges will be done only on the basis of marks obtained in CUET while on reserved seats minority colleges can give 15 per cent weightage to the interview and 85 per cent weightage to the CUET score at the time of admission.

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, filed through advocate Akash Vajpai, said.

It said the college has issued its prospectus for the undergraduate courses for the academic year 2022-23 which states that it will adopt the CUET as the eligibility criteria with 85 per cent weightage for CUET and the college’s interview for shortlisted candidates with a weightage of 15 per cent for its unreserved seats which is clearly contrary to the admission policy of the university. It said according to some media reports, the Registrar of the university again wrote a letter to the college and warned them that if the prospectus issued by the college is not withdrawn and conduct any admission based on its own admission policy, the varsity will not accept those admission and they will be treated as null and void.

If the intent of respondent no. 1 (St. Stephen’s College) is to achieve excellence in education, would it be enough if respondent no. 1 were to select students with minimum requisite qualification in the name of exercise of the right under Article 30 of the Constitution, while better students are available to take admission in the institution….. First, there was no reservation earlier exclusively for the Christian students in the college but now respondent no. 1 give 50 per cent reservation to Christian students…, the plea said.

It sought to direct the college to take admission in its unreserved seats of undergraduate courses only on the basis of marks received by the students in their CUET exam as mandated by respondent no. 2 (Delhi University), it said. The plea also sought direction to 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.

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