The Delhi High Court Wednesday refused to stay the interview process for St Stephen’s College undergraduate admissions, due to start on June 22, saying the induction of a Christian candidate of the Supreme Council in the interview panel was “not violative” of the college constitution.
“I am not inclined to grant the stay… Interviews can go on. There’s nothing wrong with that. I do not consider it appropriate to stay the interview process… It’s confined to the Christian candidates alone… They are seeking to maintain their institution as they want it to be,” said Justice Anu Malhotra.
Justice Malhotra said it did not appear “in any manner that the induction of a Christian member to the Governing Body for interviewing only the Christian candidates” was “violative” of Clause 5 of the college constitution.
Clause 5 states, “The Supreme Council of the College shall have no jurisdiction over the administration of the College.”
The court was hearing a petition filed by three teachers and Governing Body members of the college — N P Ashley, Abhishek Singh and Nandita Narain — against inclusion of a member of the institution’s Supreme Council in the interview panel, arguing that the body has “no jurisdiction” in college administration.
Refusing to stay the interview process, Justice Malhotra however preponed the hearing of their writ petition to July 2, so as not to render it infructuous, as argued by Sunil Mathews who was representing the petitioners.
Mathews argued that the Supreme Council did not have a single academician besides the Principal, and therefore “non-academic” persons should not be allowed to be part of the interview panel. “Our fear is that this creates avenues for a management quota,” said Mathews.
He cited a Supreme Court judgment of 1991 in St Stephen’s College vs University of Delhi case where the court had said the “interview is conducted by men of high integrity, calibre and qualification”.
However, senior advocate A Mariaputham, representing the college, used the same line to argue that it was not meant for teachers alone. “It says men of high integrity, calibre and qualification. It doesn’t say anywhere that it’s only the teachers… There’s nothing in the judgment which says what we are doing is prohibited,” he said.