Like other Delhi University (DU) colleges, St Stephen’s College too has to follow the CUET admission process for its undergraduate courses. The Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to stay an order of the Delhi high court asking the college to follow the admission policy prescribed by DU. St Stephen’s College had earlier demanded to be allowed to hold interviews for the general category students along with Common University Entrance Test (CUET) 2022 scores.
Let’s check out the timeline of events over admission process and differences between St Stephen’s College and DU:
St Stephen’s releases prospectus: On May 9, DU wrote to St Stephen’s College, asking it to conduct admissions to the unreserved seats solely based on CUET scores. The college, however, released its prospectus stating the eligibility criteria as “85 per cent weightage for CUET and the college’s interview for shortlisted candidates with a weightage of 15 per cent."
Asserting its minority institution character, the college said it will accord 85 per cent weightage to the CUET score and 15 per cent to physical interviews for all categories of candidates. This was strongly opposed by DU. The college added that it reserves the right to proceed with admissions in accordance with its own admission policy guaranteed to it as a minority institution.
DU warns St Stephen’s: After the college released its prospectus, DU warned St Stephen’s College that it would declare “null and void" all admissions made by it in violation of the CUET guidelines. The university asked the college to withdraw the prospectus containing an “incongruent policy immediately." It added that any admission done in violation of the university’s admission norms would not be recognised and treated as annulled for all purposes.
St Stephen’s College Writes to DU: In May, before CUET began, the college wrote to DU stating it will retain its ‘tried and trusted’ interview process during admission for its UG courses. It urged DU to abide by the 1992 Supreme Court judgement and “avoid creating an unpleasant situation" for students seeking admission in the college. Candidates who apply to St Stephen’s will face the same admission procedures, without discrimination.
In a letter to DU Registrar Vikas Gupta, the college principal John Varghese said, “The decision taken by the college to retain its stellar, tried and trusted interview process and other related steps in the admission process shall continue. All candidates who apply to the college shall face the same admission procedures, without discrimination."
Referring to the 1992 judgement of Supreme Court, the principal said, “St Stephen’s College as a Christian minority institution has its admission procedures approved by the highest court in the land and guaranteed by the Constitution of India." The prospectus as uploaded taking into consideration “our obligations, duties, rights and privileges as one of the premier educational institutions in this country," he added.
DU meeting: Following a series of meetings with DU officials, St Stephen’s issued a press statement on April 20, saying it has communicated to the DU VC. He said that in keeping with the spirit of the constitutional rights guaranteed to the college, there shall be no discrimination between minority and non-minority applicants with respect to the 85 per cent+15 per cent formula for admission to the college, it stated.
DU seeks legal opinion: The varsity sought a legal opinion. It had allowed the college to hold interviews only for reserved category students. Delhi University Vice Chancellor Yogesh Singh said, “We have sought legal opinion on the issue to understand the extent till which the provisions are applicable. The matter was sent to legal experts on Monday. St Stephen’s College has said they have a right to holding interview for all seats but we are saying the right is limited to seats reserved for minority. And they (the college) is planning to implement the right on general seats as well. We have sought legal opinion on the right guaranteed to them legally. We are expecting a reply in a few days," he said.
Plea in Delhi HC: A bench of chief justice Satish Chandra Sharma and justice Subramanium Prasad heard a plea by the college. It asked the college to follow the admission policy formulated by DU, according to which 100 per cent weightage has to be given to the CUET 2022 score. The HC said St Stephen’s College cannot be allowed to bring in subjectivity bias and discrimination by conducting interviews for students of non-minority communities. The varsity, in its affidavit, said the law is well settled that aided minority educational institutions cannot admit students under the ’unreserved category’ as per its own whims and fancies.
After Delhi HC’s rejection, St Stephen’s College filed a plea in SC.
DU defers cut off list amid row: The University of Delhi will not release the cut-off list today. The schedule has been deferred due to the ongoing case between the varsity and St Stephen’s college. It was scheduled to announce the first list of seat allocation in its colleges on October 18, but deferred the process by a day, o t October 19.
SC hears case: The Supreme Court, after hearing the plea, on October 19,refused to stay the Delhi High Court order that directed the college to admit non-minority students based on CUET scores only and not through interview. “We find no reason to stay the operation of the judgment. Application for interim relief is dismissed," a bench of justices Ajay Rastogi and CT Ravi Kumar said in an order.
St Stephen’s, thereafter, took down the prospectus from its website.
DU released its first merit list on Wednesday evening. Candidates will have time till October 22 to accept their allotments. The second merit list will be released by DU on October 30. Nearly 2.17 lakh candidates had applied for admission DU this year. Till last year, admissions into undergraduate courses were made on the basis of class 12 board exam scores. Many reputed colleges had set high cut-offs of almost 100 percent for highly demanded courses in their colleges. CUET has now brought an opportunity for many students to get admission into their preferred colleges and courses without worrying about the high cut-offs.