News Brief

Delhi High Court Allows St Stephen's College To Give 15 Per Cent Weightage To Interviews For Christian Minority Students

Abhay Rathore

Jul 27, 2023, 03:03 PM | Updated 03:03 PM IST

St. Stephen’s College, Delhi University (M Zhazo/ Hindustan Times via Getty Images)
St. Stephen’s College, Delhi University (M Zhazo/ Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

St Stephen's College has been granted permission by the Delhi High Court to conduct interviews for admission to students under the minority quota.

In addition to considering their scores in the common university entrance test, the college can now use interviews as a factor in the admission process.

Similarly, the Jesus and Mary College has also been allowed by the court to hold interviews for the seats reserved for minority-category students. This means that the college can consider both the entrance test scores and interviews in the admission process for these seats.

The Delhi High Court's decision came in response to applications by both St Stephen's College and Jesus and Mary College.

These applications sought to challenge a decision made by the executive council of the Delhi University, which required 100 percent weightage for the CUET 2023 score for admission to the minority quota. The court's order grants a temporary stay on this requirement.

The applications were filed as part of petitions by the colleges, which were challenging the notification issued by the executive council.

The Delhi High Court's decision provides some relief to the colleges by allowing them to consider interviews as a factor in the admission process for the minority quota.

The court order was issued in response to pleas from two colleges and a petition filed by Sharon Ann George. The petition specifically targeted the interviews for minority students at St Stephen's College and the CUET.

In its order, the court acknowledged a previous decision where it had discussed the extent of DU's authority to regulate the admission process for minority students.

It ruled that St Stephen's College has the right to conduct interviews for minority students, with a weightage of 15 per cent, but not for non-minority students.

The bench, which included Justice Subramaniam Prasad, noted that despite the court's previous observation, the Executive Committee had decided that admission to the Undergraduate Programmes for the academic session 2023-24 would be solely based on the CUET, even for minority seats.

As an interim measure, the court directed that the admission policy established in its previous judgment would be followed for the Academic Year 2023-24.

St Stephen's College would adopt the marks obtained in the CUET with 85 per cent weightage, and the College's interview would carry a weightage of 15 per cent for Christian minority candidates. This directive was issued in the court's order dated 21 July.

The Respondents (DU) have been criticized by the court for not providing any reasoning behind their decision to disregard the earlier ruling. The court believes this shows a lack of thought on their part.

The court has recognized the potential harm that could be caused to the colleges if they are not granted interim relief. As a result, the court has accepted the petitions.

During the proceedings, the petitioner colleges were represented by Senior advocate A Mariarputham and advocate Romy Chacko. Senior advocate Arun Bhardwaj appeared on behalf of petitioner George.

In a separate case last year, St Stephen's College challenged the Delhi University's request to withdraw its prospectus. The prospectus had allocated 85 per cent weightage to CUET and 15 per cent to college interviews for admission to unreserved seats in UG courses.

On 12 September, 2022, the high court ruled that the rights given to a minority institution under the Constitution cannot be extended to non-minorities. As a result, St Stephen's College was directed to give 100 per cent weightage to the CUET 2022 score when admitting non-minority students to its undergraduate courses.

The high court also stated that the college has the authority to conduct interviews for students belonging to the minority community, in addition to the common university entrance test.

However, non-minority candidates cannot be compelled to undergo an interview.

St Stephen's College filed a petition against DU's notification earlier this year, arguing that as a minority educational institution, its right to select students for admission and manage the institution under the Constitution should not be interfered with or taken away.

The petition stated that the university's decision to deny the college the right to conduct interviews for admission to undergraduate courses in the minority category goes against the court's judgment in W.P. (C) No. 8814/2022 in St Stephen's College Vs University of Delhi.

In that judgment, the court recognized the college's right to select students from the minority category through interviews.

Abhay Rathore is Staff Writer at Swarajya.

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