Delhi University
Delhi University
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Modify course structures, eligibility criteria in view of interdisciplinarity in modern education: Delhi HC directs DU

The Court has opined that DU's eligibility criteria could be "better adapted to the times and the strict boundaries between subject streams need not be maintained".

Aditi Singh

The Delhi High Court has directed Delhi University to take a relook at its course structures and the eligibility criteria and modify the same in view of interdisciplinarity in modern education. (Aviral Shankar vs DU)

The order was passed by a single Judge Bench of Justice Prathiba M Singh.

The Petitioner, a Class XII pass-out from the science stream, had applied to DU for admission to B.Sc. (Hons.) Physics. It was his grievance that as per the eligibility conditions, marks in Computer Science were not considered as part of 'Best of four’ while adjudging merit for the B.Sc. (Hons.) Physics course.

The Petitioner argued that the exclusion of Computer Science from the eligibility criteria was irrational, arbitrary and defied logic as for studying Physics, a knowledge of Computer Science would be very relevant.

It was also pointed out that while the score in Physics was considered to be relevant for admission to the B.Sc. (Hons.) program in Computer Science, the vice- versa was not true.

The Petitioner thus sought the addition of Computer Science as one of the subjects for calculation of the aggregate that was considered for deciding the merit list.

DU contended that the entire challenge was bereft of merit as the Bulletin of Information was released in June 2020, but the challenge was made only after the Class XII results were announced.

It was submitted that as per University Grants Commission’s regulations, a mandatory 60 days period was to be given before notifying any change in the eligibility criteria.

Since the registration process had already commenced, other students could be put to enormous disadvantage if the criteria were changed at this belated stage, DU added. DU also pleaded that there was sufficient logic and rationale behind the non-inclusion of Computer Science and only experts ought to be allowed to take decisions in these kinds of situations.

Attention was also drawn to decisions passed by Division Bench of the High Court on various steps that ought to be taken before the eligibility criteria could be amended.

In its order passed in the petition, the Court noted that the relevance of Computer Science in an undergraduate Physics course need not be emphasized and said,

Any course in Physics would require teaching of Computer Science. In the counter affidavit of DU itself, it is admitted that computer programming is taught in the B.Sc. (Hons.) Physics course to students..Thus, the non-inclusion of Computer Science as part of the subjects for calculation of merit for admission, does not stand to reason.

The Court further observed that flexibility and choice in subjects was absolutely essential in modern education as it was not uncommon to see students wishing to pursue Economics or History, also wanting to study Computer Science.

"Such strict boundaries in fact tend to ignore the overlaps and requirements of modern education..Any rigidity in providing a combination of subjects results in stultifying growth of students.", the Court said.

In view of schools across India offering various multi-disciplinary courses at the XI and XII grade or in the Pre-University courses, the Court opined that DU's eligibility criteria could be "better adapted to the times and the strict boundaries between subject streams need not be maintained".

..the eligibility criteria ought to become more flexible. There is a clear need to have a relook at the eligibility criteria and the structuring of courses. In fact, a perusal of the recently announced National Education Policy 2020 (“NEP 2020”) also highlights the need for offering inter-disciplinary courses and permits a student to obtain a dual majors bachelor’s degree.
Delhi High Court said.

In spite of its opinion that ideally, Computer Science ought to be a subject which should be taken into consideration for drawing the merit list for taking admission to B.Sc. (Hons.) Physics or any other such related subjects, the Court proceeded to not direct the same at this stage.

It noted that in terms of the order of the Division Bench, there was a mandatory condition of publication of change in the eligibility conditions for admission under as per Rule 14(1) of the UGC Regulations.

Owing to the pandemic situation, DU had not changed the eligibility criteria for the academic year 2020-21 and was following the same criteria as was prevalent in 2019-2020, the Court recorded.

Reiterating that the rules of the game cannot be changed after the race has begun, the Court remarked,

"At this stage, directing Computer Science to be added to the eligibility criteria for B.Sc. (Hons.) Physics would upset the apple cart, i.e. various students may be disadvantaged and various students like the Petitioner would obtain an advantage..Most students who wish to seek admission in B.Sc. (Hons.) Physics course in DU would be more than aware that Computer Science will not be counted in calculating merit. They would have undertaken their preparation and given the examination in the said backdrop."

While it refused to interfere with the admission process which is at an advanced stage, the Court ordered,

DU is directed to take a relook at its course structures and the eligibility criteria and modify the same, well within time, so that students like the Petitioner are not put to hardship in the forthcoming academic years. Needless to add, the same would have to be done in complete compliance of the applicable regulations and after seeking approvals, as per the statutes applicable to the University.

The petition was accordingly disposed of.

Senior Advocate V Shekhar with Advocates Sheetal Rajput, Shashank Shekhar, Mukesh Kumar Singh.

DU was represented by Advoctaes Mohinder Rupal, Hardik Rupal.

Read the Order:

Aviral Shankar vs DU.pdf
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