ADVERTISEMENT

DU vs Stephen's: What is the Battle in High Court & Why Are Students Protesting?

The fallout is over St Stephen's College's persistence in refusing to remove the 15% weightage for interviews.

Published
Explainers
5 min read
DU vs Stephen's: What is the Battle in High Court & Why Are Students Protesting?
i

Ever since the Common University Entrance Test (CUET) was made mandatory for admissions to central universities, St Stephen’s College has been at loggerheads with the Delhi University.

The fallout is over St Stephen's College's persistence in its stance of refusing to remove the 15 percent weightage for interviews in their admission criteria. It is the only one out of the six minority institutions of the Delhi University to object.

This has divided students and educators into two – those who are in favour of interviews and those who are against it.

An indefinite sit-in protest at Arts Faculty in North Campus of Delhi University by Krantikari Yuva Sangathan (KYS), a feminist-leftist student organisation, reiterates the belief that interviews are an ‘elitist tradition’.

A sit-in protest by student group Krantikari Yuva Sangathan (KYS). 

(KYS)

However, the college has stood its ground in the past and continues to do so. The college principal John Varghese had said in a statement, “This is the admission process – time-tested, proven, and guaranteed through a landmark judgment delivered by the highest court of the land that will be followed for admission to the college.”

The DU administration, however, has submitted that they want the 50 percent general category seats admitted solely based on the CUET.

DU vs Stephen's: What is the Battle in High Court & Why Are Students Protesting?

  1. 1. Issue Reaches High Court

    St Stephen's College filed a petition in the Delhi High Court on 1 June after the DU administration directed them to remove their prospectus with the 85:15 admission policy.

    A PIL was also filed by a law student, Konika Poddar, challenging St Stephen’s College's admission criteria.

    The Academic Council of DU had declared in March that the CUET would be used as the criterion for admission into all its colleges, including St Stephen’s. However, the college refused to accept this decision and announced on 20 April that they will be giving 15 percent weightage of the admission process to the interview and 85 percent to the CUET for all seats.

    The matter is currently being heard by the Delhi High Court, which has been requested to decide the matter expeditiously, keeping in mind that the DU admissions are to begin soon.

    The court has issued notice in the cases and will hear the matter next on 6 July.

    Expand
  2. 2. ‘Elitist Tradition,’ Say Critics, Protesting Students

    The whole rationale behind the CUET was to provide a standardised and nation-wide procedure of admission to students, regardless of their backgrounds or other factors which may have affected their chances of admission previously.

    The addition of weightage to the interview leaves the ball in St Stephen’s College's court, giving them arbitrary power over admissions. It is argued that this subjectivity due to the interviews will eventually lead to discrimination.

    Former Principal Valson Thampu had earlier told The Quint that interviews are 'slanted in favour of the elite.'

    Speaking about how interviews arise in social elitism, Thampu said, "I recall interviewing a girl from a tribal community in Rajasthan when I was the principal. She was from a Hindi-medium school and the interview can be intimidating for someone who is not comfortable in English. She was trembling when she came in. Eventually I interviewed her in Hindi and my broken Hindi made her comfortable."

    "The merit of the institution is driving on social elitism and I wanted that to be switched to intellectual elitism."
    Former principal Valson Thampu

    The KYS, who started the indefinite sit-in protest against St Stephen’s College's decision of 85:15 admissions criteria on 7 June, said, “This is an elitist tradition as the only reason to conduct interviews is to select the most elite students for admission into the college. The criterion has been persistently used to deny students from deprived backgrounds from gaining entry into the college and thereby maintain the elitism of granting admission and perpetuating the privilege of select clans and families.”

    A sit-in protest by Krantikari Yuva Sangathan. 

    (KYS) 

    Many have pointed out that students with privileged backgrounds have an unfair edge in interviews as they have grown up in a fluent English-speaking environment.

    A History of Attempted Autonomy

    The college, founded in 1881, became a constituent college of the DU after the university was established in 1922. In 2017, the college attempted to gain autonomy from the university, but was turned down in 2018 after the University Grants Commission (UGC) received legal advice against the move.

    In St Stephen's College, till 2006, 30 percent of seats were reserved for Christians, 20 percent for SC/ST/PwD, and 50 percent were open to general category. In 2008, the college declared a 50 percent reservation in seats for Christians with 10 percent for non-Christian SC/ST/PwD and 40 percent seats available for the general category.

    Till last year, the admission criteria for St Stephen’s were 75 percent weightage to class 12 marks, 15 percent to class 10 marks, and 10 percent to the interview process.
    Expand
  3. 3. What Have Both Sides Said So Far? 

    In March, DU has declared that admission to every college of the university is to be based on the CUET. Since then, St Stephen's has been intent on keeping a 15 percent interview component in the admissions criteria, essentially to grant it powers to accept students on a subjective basis.

    They were directed by DU to remove their 2022-2023 prospectus that included the 15 percent interview weightage information.

    "Any admission done in violation of norms and policies will be treated as null and void ab initio,” DU added. The college filed a petition in the Delhi High Court as a response.

    In its correspondence with the university, the college asserted that, as a minority institution, it has the authority to adhere to its admissions policy – and cited the 1992 Supreme Court ruling that permitted it to proceed with its interview process.

    Speaking about why the college is adamant on interviews, Nandita Narain, former Delhi University Teachers Association (DUTA) president and a professor in the college earlier told The Quint that since cut-offs used to be so high that many students had the same mark, a difference of 0.5 percent in the interview could make the difference.

    "The Supreme Court had allowed it in 1992. It is true that there was some logic behind it at the time. It was the only way we could take into account, the general knowledge and extra curricular achievements of the candidate."
    Nandita Narain, professor

    In a written reply to St Stephen's, the DU registrar emphasised that the 1992 judgment should be “read in the light of the facts and circumstances” of that particular case of 1992, and said that the judgment was passed according to the previous system where students were admitted based on “different institutions of different standards.”

    The registrar also mentioned a judgment by the Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court in TMA Pai vs State of Karnataka, which stated, “The admissions to aided institutions, whether awarded to minority or non-minority students, cannot be at the absolutely sweet will and pleasure of the management of minority educational institutions,” The Indian Express reported.

    (With inputs from PTI, The Hindu, and The Indian Express.)

    (At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

    Expand

Issue Reaches High Court

St Stephen's College filed a petition in the Delhi High Court on 1 June after the DU administration directed them to remove their prospectus with the 85:15 admission policy.

A PIL was also filed by a law student, Konika Poddar, challenging St Stephen’s College's admission criteria.

The Academic Council of DU had declared in March that the CUET would be used as the criterion for admission into all its colleges, including St Stephen’s. However, the college refused to accept this decision and announced on 20 April that they will be giving 15 percent weightage of the admission process to the interview and 85 percent to the CUET for all seats.

The matter is currently being heard by the Delhi High Court, which has been requested to decide the matter expeditiously, keeping in mind that the DU admissions are to begin soon.

The court has issued notice in the cases and will hear the matter next on 6 July.

ADVERTISEMENT

‘Elitist Tradition,’ Say Critics, Protesting Students

The whole rationale behind the CUET was to provide a standardised and nation-wide procedure of admission to students, regardless of their backgrounds or other factors which may have affected their chances of admission previously.

The addition of weightage to the interview leaves the ball in St Stephen’s College's court, giving them arbitrary power over admissions. It is argued that this subjectivity due to the interviews will eventually lead to discrimination.

Former Principal Valson Thampu had earlier told The Quint that interviews are 'slanted in favour of the elite.'

Speaking about how interviews arise in social elitism, Thampu said, "I recall interviewing a girl from a tribal community in Rajasthan when I was the principal. She was from a Hindi-medium school and the interview can be intimidating for someone who is not comfortable in English. She was trembling when she came in. Eventually I interviewed her in Hindi and my broken Hindi made her comfortable."

"The merit of the institution is driving on social elitism and I wanted that to be switched to intellectual elitism."
Former principal Valson Thampu

The KYS, who started the indefinite sit-in protest against St Stephen’s College's decision of 85:15 admissions criteria on 7 June, said, “This is an elitist tradition as the only reason to conduct interviews is to select the most elite students for admission into the college. The criterion has been persistently used to deny students from deprived backgrounds from gaining entry into the college and thereby maintain the elitism of granting admission and perpetuating the privilege of select clans and families.”

A sit-in protest by Krantikari Yuva Sangathan. 

(KYS) 

Many have pointed out that students with privileged backgrounds have an unfair edge in interviews as they have grown up in a fluent English-speaking environment.

A History of Attempted Autonomy

The college, founded in 1881, became a constituent college of the DU after the university was established in 1922. In 2017, the college attempted to gain autonomy from the university, but was turned down in 2018 after the University Grants Commission (UGC) received legal advice against the move.

In St Stephen's College, till 2006, 30 percent of seats were reserved for Christians, 20 percent for SC/ST/PwD, and 50 percent were open to general category. In 2008, the college declared a 50 percent reservation in seats for Christians with 10 percent for non-Christian SC/ST/PwD and 40 percent seats available for the general category.

Till last year, the admission criteria for St Stephen’s were 75 percent weightage to class 12 marks, 15 percent to class 10 marks, and 10 percent to the interview process.

What Have Both Sides Said So Far? 

In March, DU has declared that admission to every college of the university is to be based on the CUET. Since then, St Stephen's has been intent on keeping a 15 percent interview component in the admissions criteria, essentially to grant it powers to accept students on a subjective basis.

They were directed by DU to remove their 2022-2023 prospectus that included the 15 percent interview weightage information.

"Any admission done in violation of norms and policies will be treated as null and void ab initio,” DU added. The college filed a petition in the Delhi High Court as a response.

In its correspondence with the university, the college asserted that, as a minority institution, it has the authority to adhere to its admissions policy – and cited the 1992 Supreme Court ruling that permitted it to proceed with its interview process.

Speaking about why the college is adamant on interviews, Nandita Narain, former Delhi University Teachers Association (DUTA) president and a professor in the college earlier told The Quint that since cut-offs used to be so high that many students had the same mark, a difference of 0.5 percent in the interview could make the difference.

"The Supreme Court had allowed it in 1992. It is true that there was some logic behind it at the time. It was the only way we could take into account, the general knowledge and extra curricular achievements of the candidate."
Nandita Narain, professor

In a written reply to St Stephen's, the DU registrar emphasised that the 1992 judgment should be “read in the light of the facts and circumstances” of that particular case of 1992, and said that the judgment was passed according to the previous system where students were admitted based on “different institutions of different standards.”

The registrar also mentioned a judgment by the Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court in TMA Pai vs State of Karnataka, which stated, “The admissions to aided institutions, whether awarded to minority or non-minority students, cannot be at the absolutely sweet will and pleasure of the management of minority educational institutions,” The Indian Express reported.

(With inputs from PTI, The Hindu, and The Indian Express.)

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

ADVERTISEMENT
Speaking truth to power requires allies like you.
Become a Quint Insider
25
100
200

or more

PREMIUM

3 months
12 months
12 months
Check Insider Benefits
ADVERTISEMENT
Stay Updated

Subscribe To Our Daily Newsletter And Get News Delivered Straight To Your Inbox.

Join over 120,000 subscribers!
ADVERTISEMENT
×
×