DU's recent decision to change the admission norms for various undergraduate courses could have been announced much earlier, the Delhi High Court observed Friday while hearing pleas against the varsity for effecting them just a day before the registrations were to commence.
"There is no dispute that you have to be in tune with the times. Nothing prevents you from improving education standards. No one is saying your decision (amendment) is not right, but your timing may not be right," a bench of Justices Anu Malhotra and Talwant Singh said.
The observation by the bench came while hearing three petitions challenging Delhi University's recently amended eligibility criteria for admissions to several undergraduate courses, including B.Com (Hons) and BA (Hons) Economics, which require that Maths be part of the best of four subjects. Aggregate of marks in top four (best of four) subjects of a student is considered to ascertain if he or she makes the cut-off set by a college for a particular course.
During the more than an hour long arguments, the court said the eligibility criteria were meant for students who gave the 2018-19 Class 12 board exams and DU's amended norms came a day before start of registration. "Can you (DU) change it a day before? You could have given three months prior notice to students," the bench said and reserved its verdict in the matter after hearing extensive arguments in the matter.
Defending its decision, the varsity said it changes the eligibility criteria for courses every year and the Bulletin of Information (BIS) was meant for only one particular academic year and was not a statutory rule. Therefore, there was no need to give prior notice before making changes to the BIS, the university said. Its lawyers also told the court that no student would be deprived of admission due to the new norms and if anyone is affected they can approach its grievance committee or the court.
They urged the bench not to interfere at this stage saying that it could disrupt the entire academic time table for the current year. The petitions, two PILs and one plea by a student, have contended that students have been caught unaware as the eligibility criteria for some courses have been changed a day before opening of registration on May 30.
Advocate Anupam Srivastava, appearing for his daughter Khushi, said there would be more than one per cent difference in her best of four score if Maths was included in the top four subjects. He said admissions to top DU colleges are often lost over much smaller margins than one per cent.
The petitioners claimed that change in the eligibility criteria of various courses, including B.Com (Hons) and BA (Hons) in Economics, was illegal and violative of Article 14 of the Constitution as it was done arbitrarily, without any prior notice. They have sought quashing of the criteria which included mathematics compulsorily as one of the subjects in best of four subjects (BFS) for admission in BA (Hons) in Economics from the academic year 2019-20 as per the 'Bulletin of Information' circulated on May 29 for admission to UG courses.
Alternatively, the petitions have sought a direction to the authorities to implement the eligibility criteria followed by the university in the past three consecutive years and to make the new norms applicable from the next academic session. After hearing both sides, the court reserved its decision in the matter.
The registration for admission to DU commenced on May 30 and would end on June 14. Till last year, if a student had 50 per cent in Mathematics, he or she could apply for BA (Hons) in Economics, but this year the subject has been made mandatory for 'Best of Four', which means Mathematics has to be part of the top four subjects, aggregate of which will be considered for admission, the pleas have said.
Similarly, B.Com (Hons) required a student to have passed Mathematics/Business Mathematics with an aggregate of 45 per cent marks as a mandatory requirement, they said. This year, the criteria have been tweaked mandating that a student should have 50 per cent or more marks in Mathematics/Business Mathematics and an aggregate of 60 per cent with number of new conditionalities attached, the petitions have also said.
According to news reports, members of the Academic and Executive councils of the Delhi University had recently written to the vice-chancellor to reverse the changes brought in the eligibility criteria for various courses, describing them as "arbitrary" and "unwarranted". The letter had urged the vice-chancellor to restore the earlier criteria for this academic session on an "urgent basis".