Admission Season

St Stephens’ Cut Offs Allegedly Missing Out On PwD Candidates

St Stephen’s College, which released its cutoffs for various undergraduate courses on 15th September 2020, is allegedly neglecting the (Persons with Disabilities) PwD candidates. The cutoffs in PwD category are higher than Scheduled Caste (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST) categories for certain courses.

St Stephen’s College, affiliated with Delhi University (DU) released its cutoffs for various undergraduate courses on 15th September 2020. However, reportedly the cut offs are excluding a majority of Persons with Disabilities (PwD) applicants. DU had written to St Stephen’s College in July and had asked it to ensure that when the cutoff scores for admissions were determined, they were “sufficiently lowered” for PwD students. DU had added that the cutoffs be at least “to the level of points required by applicants who were a part of Church of North India. However, when the cutoffs came out on Tuesday, they were higher in the PwD category. 

For History and English Honours Courses, the cutoff was even higher than the Scheduled Tribe (ST) students. History (Hons) aspirants from the PwD category from Humanities stream, needed 94.25% to qualify. While the lowest cutoff was for Church of North India (CNI) and Church of North India (Diocese) candidates at 73.25%. Even the ST category cutoff was lower than for PwD at 78.25%.

“Our policy mandates that candidates for different categories are to be called for interviews in the ratio of 1:6 and 1:8 for general and Christian applicants respectively ….In each category, the cut-off is restricted to the point at which the required ratio of applicants is available. The seats reserved for PwD students are 5% of the total, or 21 seats across disciplines. ” 

Mr John Varghese, Principal of St Stephen’s College, as reported by the Times of India (TOI)

Meanwhile, Mr John Varghese, the principal of St Stephen’s College, reportedly stated that calculation of the cutoffs was governed by the admission policy of the college. He added that with respect to CNI and CNI Delhi the cutoff was lowered to achieve the required ratio of applicants. Mr Varghese also stated that being a religious minority college, 50% of the seats were reserved for Christian candidates , in which the first preference was for applicants of CNI and CNI Delhi Diocese. The college also gave the statutory reservation to SC and ST applicants as well as 5% to PwD applicants. Mr Varghese also added that there were sufficient PwD candidates for the seats available as per the ratio. 

Reportedly, Mr Anil Aneja, officer on special duty (OSD) at DU’s Equal Opportunity Cell, stated that he had written to St Stephen’s College regarding this matter and had even set a reminder for the same. He cited the Anamol Bhandari (minor) case through his father/natural guardian vs. Delhi Technological University case of 2012. In this case, Delhi high court ruled that the lowest cut-off marks amongst General (GE), Other Backward Classes (Non Creamy Layer OBCs), Scheduled Caste (SC) and Scheduled Tribe (ST) candidates had to be made applicable to the PwD candidates at the time of allocation of seats. This was upheld by the Supreme Court in the Aryan Raj vs Chandigarh Administration case and others in a civil appeal.

“There is a ruling of Delhi High Court regarding cutoff marks for students with disabilities, which has been upheld by the Supreme Court. I had written to St Stephen’s College about this and sent a reminder before the cutoffs were released. In fact, the principal had committed that PWD candidates would be called for interviews on the basis of the lowest cutoff granted to other reserved categories and they would have an equal opportunity for an interview as per the applicable ratio.”

 Anil Aneja, officer on special duty, DU’s Equal Opportunity Cell, as reported by TOI 

Yet as per the cutoffs released, the ruling of the court is apparently neglected. Mr Bipin Tewari, an OSD in the Equal Opportunity Cell, stated that if a disabled candidate had higher marks than the cutoff, he or she would automatically become eligible under the general category. He said that reservation was for those who weren’t generally qualified. Otherwise its spirit was lost. Mr Tewari also added that religious-minority colleges should be sensitive to the rights of PwD aspirants.

Featured Image Credits: DU Beat Archives 

Navneet Kaur