Rights, privileges, and reservations to certain sections are a positive concept. It aims to empower those who are left behind. However, these tools of positive discrimination start infringing on the rights of other communities, when seen from a narrow perspective.
In a landmark judgement, the Delhi High Court has prevented the autocratic and possible misuse of these effective tools of positive discrimination.
Delhi High Court junks St. Stephen’s College exclusivist plea
The two-judge bench of Delhi High Court has directed St. Stephen’s College to withdraw its admission prospectus. The Court has made it categorically clear that the college can’t take Interviews for admission of Non-Christian students.
Ruling in favour of the Delhi University (DU), the Court stated that St. Stephen’s College has to allow admissions on the basis of Common University Entrance Test (CUET) scores.
— Zee News English (@ZeeNewsEnglish) September 12, 2022
The Judgement read, “The petitioner college is therefore directed to follow the admission policy for the year 2022-23 as formulated by the Delhi University (DU) to this extent. Further, in accordance to the subsequent communication of May 25, the college must withdraw its admission prospectus and issue a public notice declaring the amended admission procedure “.
The Court further added, “Therefore, the right of the Petitioner-College to conduct interviews and accord to them 15% weightage for the purposes of admitting students does not extend to non-minority students, and solely pertains to its minority students”.
Article 30(1) is not an absolute right
The bench making an important observation held that ‘Rights under Article 30(1) are not absolute’ and the state have power to formulate rules and regulations to certain minority institutions, if it is for the interest of the minority community. The state also has power to check and prevent Mal-administration in such institutions.
Right to run educational institutions under Article 30 not absolute: Delhi High Court directs St Stephens to withdraw prospectus
— Bar & Bench (@barandbench) September 12, 2022
The Honourable Court said, “Article 30(1) is not absolute and the State has the right to formulate regulations concerning administration of a minority institution to the extent that it is for the furtherance of the interest of the minority community and it is in a bid to prevent mal-administration of minority institution”.
However, the Court’s judgement stated that DU can’t insist St. Stephen’s College to follow a single merit list in regards to admission of the candidates from Christian community.
Bone of Contention between College and University
Earlier, the DU had directed all institutes to take admissions of unreserved seats only on the basis of CUET scores. Contrarily, the St. Stephen’s College didn’t want to end its control over the admission process. It insisted on giving 15% weightage to a personal interview of candidates including non-Christians.
The DU had submitted in court that the minority college cannot admit students on its whims and fancies. In an affidavit, DU stated that St. Stephen’s College shouldn’t be allowed to bring subjectivity or discrimination through opaque interview process for the students of non-minority communities.
There are high possibilities of discrimination, favouritism under such opaque interview system. Subjective, Descriptive and Objective exams being more transparent than the interview process instil confidence in the admission process and eliminate chances of biases and other mal-practices.
With this landmark Judgement, the court has junked any possibility of discrimination be it on the grounds of belief system, region, ethnicity, race or religion. This clear verdict in favour of transparent, uniform and effective CUET system will provide a level-playing field to the students of all region, religion or boards.
It will end the autocratic and elite, exclusivist mentality of certain minority institutions, which in some way or the other; have started using rights under Article 30(1) for their personal agendas.
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