Thursday, July 05, 2007

Valson Thampu defends St. Stephen's new admission policy

This one is much better than the earlier one. As you may recall, St. Stephen's new policy is under fire because it increases the quota for Christians to 40 percent, with a new sub-quota for Dalit Christians. Thampu's defence revolves around legal issues; since St. Stephen's is a minority institution, it is bound by a Supreme Court verdict which caps the non-minority intake in these institutions to 50 percent!

St. Stephen’s College 1992 verdict [presumably by the Delhi High Court or the Supreme Court] reserved 50 per cent seats for non-minorities. The Pai Foundation verdict [by a 11-judge Supreme Court Bench in 2002] reversed this and stipulated that non-minority admissions in a minority institution shall not exceed 50 per cent. It did not cap minority admissions. [bold emphasis added]

To the charge that the college favours Christians while taking public money, his answer relies, in part, on another Supreme Court order:

The Supreme Court has settled the issue of what happens to minority rights when grant-in-aid is received from the State. No affiliated college can function without State subsidy. Colleges are allowed to collect only a pittance in the form of tuition fees. This revenue is not retained by the college, but remitted to the UGC. As the Apex Court has said repeatedly, you cannot create a situation in which a college is obliged to receive grant-in-aid and then use that obligation to rob it of its minority status.


What our IITs are to engineering and science, St Stephen’s is to the world of liberal arts and humanities.
--- Barkha Dutt.

Thampu's response, presumably, was prompted by a couple of op-eds last Sunday by Vir Sanghvi and Barkha Dutt. It relies so heavily on legal issues surrounding minority institutions that I have to depend on legally minded souls (such as the bloggers behind the excellent Law and Other Things) to tell us if other interpretations of the law are possible.


  1. barbarindian said...

    The Law and Other Things folks can have opinions but not all of them are legal experts. Some of them never had a legal training or practiced law.

  2. Anonymous said...

    It is important to remember that the issue is not about admission of Christian students but of creating another category of quota called "Dalit Christians" There is a case in the Supreme Court whther or not such a category can be a reservation category. Moreover, there is no viable way for certifying who is a Dalit Christian and who is a non-Dalit Charistian. If one looks at this closely one can realise that this new quota is merely a quota for bishops who will have the power to give dalit certifications. Thus it a programme for back door entry.
    Also, there are two kinds of minority institutioins: those unaided and those that are aided. St Stephen's is fully funded by the State. The Church does not give it even a paisa. Therefore it can have only those quotas that are sanctioned by the State. Moreover this move will have serious repurcussions on the Christians themselves. So far in Christian colleges, as per law, minority seats are meant for ALL christians regardless of whether they are Catholics or Protestants or Baptists. Now, the door has been opened for a Catholic Christian College from having seats for Catholic only and keep protestants out and vice versa.