New Delhi- In a recent interim order, the Delhi High Court has granted permission to Delhi University (DU) to admit students into its newly-introduced five-year integrated law course for the current academic session based on their CLAT-UG 2022 scores. The decision was made to address the fact that other universities had already commenced their courses for the current academic year.
The bench, consisting of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Sanjeev Narula, acknowledged that the ongoing academic year had started in various institutions and that this exceptional circumstance warranted an interim measure.
However, the High Court emphasized that a more extensive question must be considered regarding whether the Common University Entrance Test (CUET) should be made mandatory for all central universities for admissions, or if these institutions should retain the autonomy to establish their admission criteria.
While scheduling the matter for further hearings on this broader issue, the bench also appointed senior advocate Arun Bhardwaj as amicus curiae in the case to provide expert guidance.
The High Court took note of a recent affidavit submitted by the University Grants Commission (UGC), which clarified the role of CUET in admissions.
The UGC stated that CUET was not mandatory for universities offering professional specialized courses like engineering, medicine, and law. In these cases, universities had the flexibility to determine their admission criteria, including conducting entrance exams through specialized agencies such as the Common Law Admission Test (CLAT) and the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET), However, the UGC also indicated that in its 566th meeting, it had resolved to make CUET mandatory for admissions in central universities for all general degree programs.
The High Court’s interim order followed its consideration of a petition filed by a law student challenging Delhi University’s decision to admit students into its five-year integrated law course solely based on CLAT-UG 2023 scores. The petitioner argued that this decision was unreasonable and violated the right to equality and education, especially in light of the Ministry of Education’s introduction of CUET-UG-2023 for admission to all undergraduate programs in central universities.
During previous hearings, the High Court had questioned Delhi University about its preference for using CLAT instead of CUET for admissions to its five-year integrated law course.
The interim order, while allowing DU to proceed with admissions based on CLAT-UG 2022 scores for the current academic session, has opened up a significant debate regarding the role of standardized entrance tests like CUET in central university admissions. The court’s upcoming deliberations on this matter will likely have far-reaching implications for future admission processes in central universities.
As the case continues to unfold, stakeholders in the education sector, including students, university officials, and policymakers, will keenly watch the proceedings to determine how the balance between standardized testing and university autonomy in admissions will ultimately be struck in the Indian higher education system.
The Delhi High Court’s recent interim order allowing Delhi University to admit students into its five-year integrated law course based on CLAT-UG 2022 scores for the current academic session reflects the court’s recognition of the time-sensitive nature of academic admissions.
The court’s decision to appoint senior advocate Arun Bhardwaj as amicus curiae underlines its commitment to a fair and well-informed consideration of the broader issue surrounding the role of CUET in central university admissions. The University Grants Commission’s stance, as outlined in its affidavit, adds a layer of complexity to the debate, as it clarifies the optional nature of CUET for certain specialized courses while mandating it for general degree programs in central universities.
This ongoing legal dispute brings to the forefront a critical question: should standardized tests like CUET be uniformly imposed across all central universities, or should individual institutions retain the freedom to determine their admission criteria, considering the specific requirements of their programs? As the case evolves, it holds the potential to reshape the future of university admissions in India’s central universities, impacting thousands of aspiring students and the institutions themselves.