Eligibility terms in JNU prospectus binding: Delhi High Court

It rejects plea against admission policy

The Delhi High Court has refused to interfere with a plea of a candidate who claimed that Jawaharlal Nehru University has not invited any applications for PhD in Hindi course through JNU entrance examination this academic session.

“The categories and qualifications in which an academic institution seeks to attract students for various courses is a matter for the institution to decide, and the interference of the writ court in such matters is only upon a finding of manifest arbitrariness or perversity,” Justice Prateek Jalan said.

Ineligible for course

The High Court was hearing a petition by one Sanskriti Sharma who had applied for admission to the PhD course in Hindi in the Centre for Indian Languages, School of Languages, Literature and Cultural Studies, JNU. She has challenged the decision of the varsity holding her ineligible for the course.

Ms. Sharma submitted that she applied for admission to PhD in Hindi in the National Eligibility Test (NET) — Junior Research Fellowship (JRF) category. She submitted that in the academic session 2021-22, JNU did not offer any seats for PhD in Hindi other than through the NET-JRF category.

She contended that although she had not taken the NET-JRF exam, conducted by the University Grants Commission, she was entitled to be considered in the said category as the NET-JRF has not been conducted in the last three cycles.

Advocate Monica Arora, representing JNU, explained that admissions to PhD programmes at JNU are offered either through the NET-JRF category, or through the JNU Entrance Examination (JNUEE). In the event the candidate is not NET- JRF qualified, he/she is entitled to appear in the JNUEE, and seek admission. On the other hand, a NET-JRF qualified candidate is not required to appear in the JNUEE but must submit himself/herself to an interview.

Ms. Sharma had applied in the NET-JRF category and was subsequently interviewed, but was ultimately held to be ineligible as she has admittedly not taken the NET-JRF examination. At the time the prospectus was issued, the NET-JRF was scheduled to be held in June, 2021, but has now been postponed to December, 2021, the court was informed.

Justice Jalan noted that “the eligibility conditions mentioned in the prospectus are binding”. The judge said that Ms. Sharma having applied under the prospectus, cannot now seek an exemption from the eligibility conditions mentioned in it.

“This will cause severe prejudice not just to the administration of JNU, but also to other qualified candidates who have applied under the NET-JRF category, and also to candidates similarly placed as the petitioner who may not have applied for want of the requisite qualifications,” the judge said.

Ms. Sharma, additionally, contended that JNU has not invited any applications for PhD in Hindi course through JNUEE. “That is also, unfortunately, not a matter which can invite the interference of the writ court,” the court said rejecting her plea.

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