18 Sep 2023 10:23 AM GMT
The Delhi High Court on Monday passed an interim order and permitted the Delhi University to offer admissions in its newly introduced five-year integrated law courses on the basis of CLAT-UG 2023 score, only for the current academic year. A division bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Sanjeev Narula passed the interim order considering the fact that classes have...
The Delhi High Court on Monday passed an interim order and permitted the Delhi University to offer admissions in its newly introduced five-year integrated law courses on the basis of CLAT-UG 2023 score, only for the current academic year.
A division bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Sanjeev Narula passed the interim order considering the fact that classes have already started for this academic year in all other universities.
The court was hearing a PIL challenging Delhi University’s decision to offer the said admissions solely on the basis of CLAT-UG 2023 score, instead of CUET.
The bench observed that the matter requires consideration and listed it for hearing for a broader question i.e. whether CUET should be mandatory for admissions in all Central Universities or if such varsities are at a liberty to admit students through other examinations conducted by other specialized agencies.
“However, for the present academic year 2023-24, as classes have already started, by way of interim relief, DU is permitted to admit students to its Five Year Integrated Law Course based on CLAT UG 2023,” the court ordered.
The court also appointed Senior Advocate Anuj Bhardwaj as amicus curiae in the matter.
The court took note of the latest affidavit filed by the University Grants Commission clarifying that CUET is not mandatory for professional specialized courses like engineering, law and medicine and that the Universities offering such courses can adopt different admission criteria including conducting entrance tests using specialized agencies like CLAT and NEET.
The affidavit however added that the UGC in its 566th meeting resolved that CUET would be mandatory for admissions in all general degree programs in Central Universities.
Additional Solicitor General Chetan Sharma, whose assistance was sought by the court, submitted that CUET is not mandatory for specialized courses like law because the test to check the aptitude of the candidates in the professional fields cannot be the knowledge of “Hindi or Geography."
“Apples can’t be oranges and oranges can’t be apples,” Sharma said.
The UGC’s latest affidavit was filed after the court recently directed its Chairman to clarify the position on mandate of CUET, after the statutory body made contrary submissions on the issue.
The court noted had that the UGC, while opposing the plea, supported the varsity’s decision and said that “different yardsticks” in terms of assessment or evaluation may be required to select students for admission in the Five-Year Integrated law programme which is a “professional degree programme.”
At the same time, it had also noted that a letter issued by UGC’s Joint Secretary in March stated that CUET shall be mandatory for admission in all the Undergraduate Programmes in all the Central Universities.
The petition has also been opposed by the Union Ministry of Education which said Delhi University is a statutory body “having an autonomous status” in the management of its day-to-day affairs and that admission to various professional courses is governed by varsity’s own law.
The PIL has been filed by Prince Singh, a student of Delhi University, Faculty of Law.
It is Singh’s case that the varsity, while issuing the impugned notification, has imposed an “unreasonable and arbitrary condition” that the admission to five-year integrated law courses shall be solely based upon merit in the CLAT- UG 2023 result, which is violative of the right to equality under Article 14 and right to education under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.
“That the condition imposed for admission to the Five-year Integrated Law Courses at the Faculty of Law, University of Delhi is wholly unreasonable and arbitrary. It lacks any intelligible differentia and has no rational nexus with the object of admission to the Five-year Integrated Law Courses at the Faculty of Law, University of Delhi,” the plea reads.
Significantly, the CLAT examination has lately been in controversy for being limited to candidates proficient in English language. Lawyers' apex body Bar Council of India recently offered to hold the examination, instead of Consortium of National Law Universities, in multiple regional languages. The matter is pending consideration before the High Court. More details here.
Case Title: Prince Singh v. Faculty of Law, University of Delhi & Ors.
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (Del) 843