The Delhi High Court has granted permission to Delhi University to admit students to its newly introduced five-year integrated law program based on their CLAT-UG scores from the previous year, exclusively for the current academic year 2023-24.
A bench comprising Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Sanjeev Narula issued this interim order, considering that classes have already commenced in other universities for the current academic session.
The high court was addressing a petition against Delhi University’s decision to admit students to the five-year integrated law program solely on the basis of the Common Law Admission Test Undergraduate (CLAT-UG) for 2023, rather than the Common University Entrance Test (CUET).
The court acknowledged that this matter raises a broader issue of whether CUET should be mandatory for admissions in all central universities or if universities should have the autonomy to decide their admission criteria.
The bench stated, “The matter requires consideration. However, for the present academic year, as classes have already started in all universities, Delhi University is permitted to admit students to the five-year law courses based on CLAT-UG, which is a common law entrance test.”
Senior advocate Arun Bhardwaj was appointed as amicus curiae to assist the court in this matter, with the petition listed for further hearing on November 23.
During the hearing, the bench reviewed an affidavit submitted by the University Grants Commission (UGC) Chairman, as per the court’s prior instructions.
The affidavit clarified that CUET is not mandatory for professional specialized courses such as law, engineering, and medicine. Universities offering these courses can employ different admission criteria, including conducting entrance tests like CLAT and NEET.
The UGC stated that CUET will be obligatory for admissions in all general degree programs in central universities.
Previously, the court had requested the UGC Chairman to submit an affidavit clarifying whether CUET is mandatory for admission to five-year law degree courses in central universities, as there had been conflicting statements from UGC officials on this issue.
The court noted that a UGC Joint Secretary’s March letter had asserted CUET’s mandatory status for admissions in all undergraduate programs in central universities, while an affidavit filed by the UGC under secretary maintained that DU could admit students to the five-year law course through CLAT.
The UGC’s earlier affidavit had explained that the five-year law course is a professional degree program that may necessitate different admission criteria. DU, with the approval of its Academic Council and Executive Council, had decided to admit students to its integrated law course through CLAT, a nationally centralized entrance test mainly adopted by the premier National Law Universities (NLUs).
Similarly, the Central government had asserted in its response that admission criteria for professional courses like engineering, medicine, and law should be tailored to the specialized nature and specific skills required for each course.
The court had previously requested detailed replies from the central government and the UGC regarding the petition filed by law student Prince Singh. Singh’s petition argued that DU had imposed an “unreasonable and arbitrary condition” by basing admission to five-year integrated law programs solely on the CLAT-UG 2023 result, which, he contended, violated constitutional rights to equality and education.
The petition sought admissions to the five-year integrated law programs through CUET-UG 2023, introduced by the Union Ministry of Education (MoE) for academic session 2023-24 in central universities.