The Delhi High Court while pronouncing a judgment has directed Delhi University to take corrective measures in identifying and removing misleading eligibility criteria for admissions from its website.

The Court said that such misleading criteria not only create confusion in the minds of candidates but also lead to unwarranted litigation.

A Single Bench of Justice Vikas Mahajan held, “… this court would like to observe that the University of Delhi needs to take immediate corrective measures in identifying and removing all such material from its website which mentions the eligibility criteria for admission to any course, contrary to the one stipulated in the Bulletin of Information or the statutory Rules, Regulations and Ordinances of the University, for such contradictory and misleading criteria not only creates confusion in the minds of the candidates but also leads to unwarranted litigation.”

The Bench was dealing with a writ petition filed by a woman who graduated with B.Sc. (H) Biological Science from Delhi University and had applied for admission in M.Sc. Botany under the merit category as an OBC (non-creamy layer) candidate for the academic year 2022-2023.

Advocate Manoj Kumar Gaur appeared for the petitioner while Advocate Mohinder JS Rupar appeared for Delhi University.

Facts –

The grievance of the petitioner was that her candidature for admission in M.Sc. Botany under the Merit Admission Category was ignored. She came to know that she was not eligible for merit or percentage-based admission in the M.Sc. Botany Course in terms of the prospectus released by the university, for the reason that she did not possess the eligibility qualification of B.Sc. (Hons.) Botany.

She argued that the eligibility criteria for admission were a part of Bulletin of Information 2022. The said Bulletin provided B.Sc. (Hons.) Botany from the University of Delhi as an eligibility criterion for admission under the Merit Category. She was misled by the online application form for the admission filled by her wherein for the Merit-Based Category, the eligibility criteria also included B.Sc. (Hons.) Biological Science.

The question for consideration before the High Court was as to which eligibility criteria would prevail, whether the one mentioned in the Bulletin of Information or the one given in the Admission Form. The Court in this context observed, “In Varun Kumar Aggarwal vs. Union of India & Ors., 179 (2011) DLT 24, after noticing various precedents, the Division Bench of this court held that the prospectus is binding on the candidates as well as on the State including the machinery appointed by it for identifying the candidates for selection and admission.”

The High Court further asserted that it is beyond any cavil that the eligibility criteria as mentioned in Bulletin of Information 2022 shall govern the admission to M.Sc. Botany course under the Merit Category.

“The petitioner cannot take advantage of, or refuge under, the inadvertent error that has crept in the Admission Form available on the website. Such a mistake on part of the respondent-university would not clothe the petitioner with any legal right. … this court cannot direct the respondent-university to commit breach of its Bulletin of Information”, the Court said.

It was noted by the Court that the doctrine of ‘legitimate expectation’ and ‘estoppel’ cannot be pressed against the university when the mistake in the PG Admission Form is ex-facie contrary to the eligibility criteria mentioned in the Bulletin of Information.

The Court further noted, “The petitioner did not even seek clarification from the respondent university as to which eligibility criteria, the one given in the Bulletin of Information or that mentioned in the PG Admission Form, will apply. Now after having unsuccessfully participated in the selection process, the petitioner cannot turn around and challenge the criteria of admission given in the Bulletin of Information.”

The Court, therefore, did not find any merit in the writ petition as the same criterion was notified in the Bulletin of Information 2022 like the previous three years.

Accordingly, the Court dismissed the petition and issued directions to Delhi University.

Cause Title- Sonam Rawal v. University of Delhi and Ors.

Click here to read/download the Judgment