HC reserves order on interim plea by St Stephen’s on minority quota admissions

The Delhi High Court Friday reserved its order on a plea by St Stephen’s College seeking interim relief against Delhi University’s notification insisting on admissions under minority quota solely on the basis of the common university entrance test (CUET) score.

A bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad also reserved its order on the interim prayer in a similar petition by Jesus and Mary College.

As an interim prayer, the two colleges have sought to stay the December 8, 2022 decision of the executive council of Delhi University (DU) insisting on 100 per cent weightage for CUET 2023 score for admission to minority quota in the petitioner colleges till the disposal of the writ petitions.

The pleas came up for hearing before the high court in pursuance to the Supreme Court’s July 19 order asking the high court to consider with “requisite urgency” St Stephen’s College’s petition.

Earlier, the high court had noted that there was an appeal pending before the apex court in the matter and had deferred the case.

It had granted liberty to the parties to approach the top court for redress of their grievances.

Besides the pleas of the two colleges, a petition by a woman named Sharon Ann George against interview for minority students at St Stephen’s in addition to CUET is also pending in the high 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 high 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 that 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 Hon’ble Court dated September 12, 2022 in W.P. (C) No. 8814/2022 in St. Stephen’s College Vs University of Delhi which recognised 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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