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St Stephen’s, AUD College of Art admissions in limbo over court tussles with DU

Delhi University has challenged the admission process of the two colleges, but for different reasons, in the High Court. Both matters will be heard this week.

The 2022-’23 academic year’s admission process for St Stephen’s College in Delhi University (DU) and Ambedkar University Delhi’s (AUD) College of Art (CoA) – which was earlier under DU – could be affected as the admission process in the two colleges is being challenged in the Delhi High Court. But for different reasons.

The St Stephen’s issue pertains to conducting interviews for admissions to undergraduate (UG) programmes. DU’s statutory bodies have mandated that all UG admissions, including in a minority college such as St Stephen’s, should be based on the Common University Entrance Test (CUET) score.

However, the college released a prospectus in May saying that it will accord 15 per cent weightage to interviews and the rest to a candidate’s CUET score. This set off the dispute with the university.

After much back-and-forth, DU asked the college to remove its prospectus from its website and declared that admissions conducted in violation of the mandate would be considered null and void.

Subsequently, a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) plea challenging the college’s admission criteria was filed in the Delhi High Court and the matter is currently sub judice. The next date of hearing is July 15. The court has issued notices to the college, DU, and the University Grants Commission (UGC).

The college has not released application forms or details concerning admissions for UG courses yet. While St Stephen’s Principal John Varghese did not respond to calls and texts, sources told The Indian Express that with the matter in court it was “unlikely” for the college to advance its admission process.

“Our stand on the matter is very clear. They cannot conduct admissions according to their whims. There is no scope for any misunderstanding among students. Once there is clarity on the matter from the HC, only then the next step will be taken,” said DU Registrar Vikas Gupta.

Affiliation of College of Art

The CoA was under DU until the previous academic year. In March, the Delhi government announced that it was going to be a part of AUD, which is under its control.

The matter in contention is the affiliation of the college as DU has not given its nod to CoA’s disaffiliate from the university. Admissions were halted in the 2021-’22 academic session too.

On May 17, AUD released admission forms for its six BFA (Bachelor of Fine Arts) and five MFA (Master of Fine Arts) programmes.  The last date of application for the courses is July 12.  As per its website, it has already received a little over 2,000 applications.

The case is now in the Delhi HC, which has said that admissions should continue on schedule until it decides the matter. The next hearing is on July 13.

CoA’s Officiating Principal B S Chauhan did not respond to calls and texts.

Gupta, however, said that students should wait for DU’s forms. “We are confident that the matter will be settled in our favour since the Lieutenant Governor’s grant of approval for CoA’s affiliation with AUD was conditional on its de-affiliation from DU. When the latter has not happened, how can it come under AUD? I would urge the students not to register and fill out forms right now. They should wait till DU releases its own forms.”

Gupta said the university would not give up till the last stage in both matters. “Whether it is Stephen’s or CoA, we will fight this out till the end and go to the Supreme Court also if necessary. We are on a very sound legal ground.”

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