HC defers hearing of St Stephen’s plea on Minority Quota admissions

The Delhi High Court on Wednesday deferred till August 23 the hearing of a petition by St Stephen’s College against Delhi University’s notification insisting on admissions under minority quota solely on the basis of the common university entrance test (CUET) scores, in view of the pendency of a related matter before the Supreme Court.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma also listed for hearing on the same date a similar petition by Jesus and Mary College as well as a petition by a woman named Sharon Ann George against interview for minority students at St Stephen’s in addition to CUET.

“All three matters we cannot touch. There is an SLP (special leave petition). We will not touch it. The matter is pending before the apex court,” remarked the bench, also comprising Justice Subramonium Prasad.

The court said the parties were at liberty to approach the top court for redress of their grievances.

“It has been brought to the notice of the court that against the judgement (in cases pertaining to admission to St Stephen’s College), an SLP has been filed in the apex court. In light of the SLP, hearing of cases is deferred,” said the court.

Last year, St Stephen’s College had filed a petition challenging DU’s letter asking it to withdraw its prospectus which gave 85 per cent weightage to CUET and 15 per cent to college interview for admission to its unreserved seats in UG courses.

Holding that the rights accorded to a minority institution under the Constitution cannot be extended to non-minorities, the court had in September 2022 directed St Stephen’s College to give 100 per cent weightage to the CUET 2022 score while granting admission to non-minority students in its undergraduate courses.

It had, however, said the college has the authority to conduct interviews in addition to the common university entrance test (CUET) for admitting students belonging to the minority community but it cannot force non-minority candidates to additionally undergo an interview.

The appeal before the Supreme Court is against this judgement.

Earlier this year, St Stephen’s College filed the petition against DU’s notification, contending being a minority educational institution, its right to select students for admission and administer educational institution under the Constitution cannot be interfered with or taken away.

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“The impugned decision of the University denying the petitioner College its right to conduct interviews for admission to undergraduate courses in the minority category is contrary to the judgment of this Honble Court dt. 12.09.2022 in W.P. (C) No. 8814/2022 in St. Stephen’s College Vs University of Delhi which recognized the Petitioner’s right to select students of minority category by conducting interviews,” the petition has stated.

George, who was represented by senior advocate Arun Bhardwaj and lawyer Akash Vajpai, has said in her petition that asking Christian students to appear for interview for admission to St Stephen’s College, besides writing the CUET, is discriminatory.

“Aided minority educational institutions affiliated with Delhi University ought to follow the norm and procedure of Delhi University to maintain the uniformity and standard of excellence if it does change its minority status,” the plea has said.

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