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St. Stephen'S College Etc., Etc. vs The University Of Delhi Etc., Etc. on 6 December, 1991
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66. The right to select students for admission is a part of administration. It is indeed an important facet of administration. This power also could be regulated but the regulation must be reasonable just like any other regulation. It should be conducive to the welfare of the minority institution or for the betterment of those who resort to it. The Bombay Government order which prevented the schools using English as the medium of instruction from admitting students who have a mother-tongue other than English was held to be invalid since it restricted the admission pattern of the schools. (State of Bombay v. Bombay Education Society ). The Gujarat Government direction to the minority run college to reserve 80 per cent of seats for Government selected candidates with a threat to withdraw the grant-in-aid and recognition was struck down as infringing the fundamental right guaranteed to minorities under Article 30(1) of the Constitution. (Sidhajbhai Sabhai v. State of Bombay and Anr ). In Rt. Rev. Mager. Mark Netto v. Government of Kerala the denial of permission to the management of a minority school to admit girl students was held to be bad. The Regional Deputy Director in that case refused to give sanction for admission of girl students on two grounds; (i) that the school was not open as a mixed school and that the school has been run purely as a boys school for 25 years; and (ii) that there was facility for the education of girls of the locality in a nearby girl school which was established by the Muslims and was also a minority institution. This Court noted that the Christian community in the locality wanted their girls also to receive education in the school maintained specially by their own community. They did not think it in their interest to send their children to the Muslim girls school run by other minority community. The withholding of permission for admission of girl students in the boys minority school was violative of Article 30(1). It was also observed that the rule sanctioning such refusal of permission crosses the barrier of regulatory measures and comes in the region of interference with the administration of the institution, a right which is guaranteed to the minority under Article 30(1). The Court restricted the operation of the rule and made it inapplicable to the minority educational institution. In Director of School Education Government of Tamil Nadu v. Rev. Brother G. Arogiasamy the Madras High Court had an occasion to consider the validity of an uniform procedure prescribed by the State Government for admission of candidates to the aided training schools. The Government directed that the candidates should be selected by the school authorities by interviewing every candidate eligible for admission and assessing and awarding marks in the interview. The marks awarded to each candidate in the interview will be added to the marks secured by the candidate in the S.S.L.C. public examination. On the basis of the aggregate of marks in the S.S.L.C. examination and those obtained at the interview the selection was to be made without any further discretion. The High Court held that the method of selection placed serious restrictions on the freedom of the minority institution to admit their own students. It was found that the students of the minority community could not compete with the students belonging to other communities. The applications of students from other communities could not be restricted under law. The result was that the students of minority community for whose benefit the institution was founded, had little chance of getting admission. The High Court held that the Government order prescribing the uniform method of selection could not be applied to minority institutions.

118. On a complaint made by the Delhi University Students Union that the college was violating the University's Statutes and Ordinances by fixing its own time Schedule for receipt of applications as well as by stimulating interview before admission, some correspondence took place between the university and the College, but the College authorities did not agree to adhere to the University's Circular. At this stage Rahul Kapoor a student seeking admission to the college filed a writ petition No. 790 of 1980 in the Delhi High Court challenging the admission schedule prescribed by the College as well as the Policy of interview test prescribed by the college. This Writ petition is the subject matter of the Transferred Case No. 3 of 1980. The St. Stephen's College filed a writ petition No. 1868 of 1980 before this Court under Article 32 of the Constitution. The college in substance took the stand that it was a religious minority-run institution and the Circulars dated 5th and 9th June, 1980 issued by the University were violative of the fundamental right guaranteed under Article 30 of the Constitution. The Delhi University Students Union became an intervener in the writ petition No. 1868 of 1980 filed by the College. Subsequently for the admission year 1984-85, the Delhi University Students Union and Dr. Mahesh C. Jain filed writ petition Nos. 13213-14 of 1984 under Article 32 of the Constitution against the College. It was maintained in these writ petitions that the College was bound to follow all university policies, rules, regulations, Ordinances regarding admission and that the College be restrained from giving preference in favour of Christian students in the matter of admission to the College. It was alleged that the college is not a minority institution and in the alternative it was further pleaded that even assuming that the College was a minority institution, it was not entitled to discriminate students on grounds of religion as the college was receiving grant-in-aid from the Government. Such discrimination was violative of Article 29(2) of the Constitution.

122. It was contended on behalf of the University as well as the students Union that the first Circular dated 5th June, 1980 fixing the last date for receipt of applications for admission was done in order to ensure uniformity in the admission dates in all the affiliated colleges of the University and it was considered beneficial in the interest of students community as a whole. So far as the second Circular dated 9th June, 1980 was concerned University was justified in applying a uniform standard that the admission should be made on the basis of marks secured by the applicants in the qualifying examinations and this would exclude arbitrariness in the selection and ensure fairness to all the applicants. It has been submitted that the Circulars in question were regulatory in character and did not impinge upon any right guaranteed under Article 30(1) of the Constitution to St. Stephen's College as a minority institution. It was further contended that once an educational institution is affiliated to the University or becomes a constituent of such University it has to abide by the regulation framed by the University relating to admissions in such institutions irrespective of their being a minority or non-minority institution. The University has the right to regulate the standard of education and the admission of students in an educational institution is a part and parcel of such right. St. Stephen's College cannot adopt a different standard for admitting students, under the guise of exclusive right of management given to a minority institution. It has been contended that the uniformity in the matter of admission is a necessary concomitant of the right to seek higher education by joining a college and uniform pattern would better serve the interest of the student community as a whole. The college has not pointed out as to which examining Boards are giving fantastically high marks and it has not been shown by the college as to how and in what manner they are able to cope with such problem by resorting to the method of interview. It has also not been shown by the college as to how many percentage of marks have been kept for interview and whether it is in consonance with the norms and principles laid down by this Court in large number of cases restricting the maximum percentage of marks for interview. It has been submitted that the aim of minority institutions is also to maintain uniformity in standards of education. To qualify for studies at graduate level the only relevant consideration should be the academic performance shown by the candidate in his qualifying examination. If the candidate has shown his ability and distinction in academic standards at the level of Higher Secondary or 10+2 examination he cannot be denied the right of persuing higher studies by resorting to the method of interview. It has been further contended that once the St. Stephen's College, though being a minority institution, gets grant-in-aid from the State, it has to fall in line with the other non-minority institutions in the matter of admitting the students and has to abide by a uniform rule prescribed by the Delhi University.

147. In the same case it was further held (P. 1050-51):

The argument is sought to be reinforced by a reference to Article 29(2). It is said that an educational institution established by a minority community which does not seek any aid from the funds of the State need not admit a single scholar belonging to a community other than that for whose benefit it was a community other than that for whose benefit it was established seeks and gets aid from the State confers Article 29(2) will preclude it from denying admission to members of the other communities on grounds only of religion, race, caste, language or any of them and consequently it will cease to be an educational institution of the choice of the minority community which established it. This argument does not appear to us to be warranted by the language of the Article itself. There is no such limitation in Article 30(1) and to accept this limitation will necessarily involve the addition of the words "for their own community" in the Article which is ordinarily nor permissible according to well established rules of interpretation. Nor is it reasonable to assume that the purpose of Article 29(2) was to deprive minority educational institutions of the aid they receive from the State. To say that an institution which receives aid on account of its being a minority educational institution must not refuse to admit any member of any other community only on the grounds therein mentioned and then to say that as soon as such institution admits such an outsider it will cease to be a minority institution is tantamount to saying that minority institutions will not, as minority institutions, be entitled to any aid. The real import of Article 29(2) and Article 30(1) seems to us to be that they clearly contemplate a minority institution with a sprinkling of outsiders admitted into it. By admitting a non-member into it the minority institution does not shed its character and cease to be a minority institution. Indeed the object of conservation of the distinct language, script and culture of a minority may be better served by propagating the same amongst non-members of the particular minority community. In our opinion, it is not possible to read this condition into Article 30(1) of the Constitution.