Nursery admission: Delhi HC notice on scrapping quotas

New Delhi, Jan 18 (IANS) The Delhi High Court on Monday issued notice to the city government on petitions questioning its decision to scrap management and other quotas in nursery admissions in private schools.

Justice Manmohan sought response from the Delhi government and its education department by January 25 and posted the matter for hearing on January 28.

Saying the government can’t take away the “autonomy of private schools”, the court said parents should fill the nursery admission forms as per the criteria prescribed by the schools, but scrutiny of applications would be subject to final orders of the petitions.

Meanwhile, the court questioned the government on the condition of public schools in the national capital.

“There is a rush in private schools because the standard is not good in public schools. When can’t you improve public schools? You are taking over private schools. Set your house in order,” the court said.

The court was hearing petitions filed by the Action Committee of Unaided Recognised Private Schools and Forum for Promotion of Quality Education that the government circular was “absolutely without jurisdiction” and should be quashed as it completely took away the autonomy of schools.

Recently the Delhi government scrapped 62 criteria, including management quota, for nursery admissions. Hearing the pleas, the court expressed doubts over scrapping of all 62 criteria, except for some like quotas for children whose parents were vegetarians, non-alcoholics or non-smokers. The court said that if such criteria being implemented by any private school for admissions, it will amount to maladministration.

“The order is liable to be quashed in as much as it completely takes away the autonomy of schools, which is part of fundamental right of private unaided educational institutions, as guaranteed to them under the constitution,” the plea said.

“About 99 percent of private unaided recognised schools functioning in Delhi are following and have specified absolutely fair, reasonable, just and transparent criteria for admissions in their respective schools,” it said.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on January 6 said the decision to scrap the management quota was taken to bring in more transparency in the admission process of private schools. He said the existing provision of 25 percent seats earmarked for students from poor families will remain in place.

However, he said, schools were free to grant admission to children of their employees and could allocate points in their criteria.

Currently, the schools keep 20 percent or even more seats under the management quota, while 25 percent seats are reserved for economically weaker sections (EWS) students while the remaining are open for the general category children.

Lt. Governor Najeeb Jung issued a notification in December 2013, abolishing the management quota in nursery admissions but it was challenged by the affected schools.

In November 2014, the high court quashed the admission guidelines issued by the lt. governor and gave autonomy to the schools to decide on the criteria as per the Ashok Ganguly Committee guidelines.

The city government appealed to refer the matter to a larger bench.

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