Refusing to grant interim relief to unaided recognised schools in the city, the Delhi High Court declined to grant a stay on a notification issued by Delhi Lt-Governor on nursery admission. The notification states that children living in 8-km radius of the schools will be given a preference during admission, which is set to begin from January 15.
“The matter requires detailed hearing… it cannot be stayed on the first day..” Justice Manmohan observed, while dismissing the plea for interim stay on the operation of the December 18 notification issued by L-G Najeeb Jung.
The order comes after the Action Committee of Unaided Recognised Private Schools had filed a plea claiming that the notification was “absolutely illegal, arbitrary and without jurisdiction”.
The new guidelines for nursery admission for the session 2014-15 had allowed the 100-point scheme for nursery admission to continue, but had specified that 70 points would be given to children who lived within an 8-km radius of the school.
The government notification also abolished the 20 per cent management quota, and allotted a 20-point preference to applicants who have a sibling studying in the same school. Further, five points will be added by default in the application of girls and wards of school alumni.
During arguments before the court on Friday, Senior Advocates Neeraj Kishan Kaul and Sandeep Sethi argued that the notification was made without application of mind, and compromised the autonomy of schools.
“The Ganguly committee had said you cannot restrict people to one area. Giving 70 points out of 100 points to neighborhood (criteria) is arbitrary,” the advocate said.
The court, however, said the matter would need to be heard in detail. “This academic session, you can go on with this notification, we will see for next year,” the court observed.
The court then issued notices to the Directorate of Education to reply to the petition within three weeks, and has fixed March 11 to hear detailed arguments.
The plea filed by the schools’ body had claimed that the guidelines were against the principle of autonomy and the unaided private schools had been given the power by the Central government to formulate their own admission criteria for 75 per cent seats.
Meanwhile, NGO Social Jurist was also impleaded as a party in the case to respond to the plea by the schools.
After the single bench refused relief, lawyers for the schools mentioned the issue before the division bench, seeking leave to file an appeal against the single bench decision on Monday. According to advocate Kamal Gupta, the court was likely to hear the matter on Monday or Wednesday, since Tuesday is a court holiday.
“We have now filed our application with the division bench. The matter is expected to be heard by Monday. We are expecting the bench to grant us the stay,” S K Bhattacharya, President, Action Committee of Unaided Recognised Private Schools, said.
Asked if the admission process would remain unchanged this year, Bhattacharya replied, “It can’t be said with all certainty that the process will remain unchanged. If the division bench grants us a stay, the old guidelines will come into effect. The real picture will only emerge on Monday.”
The schools are also not ruling out the possibility of going to the Supreme Court. “If the High Court doesn’t grant us a stay, we will go to the Supreme Court,” R C Jain, President, Delhi State Public Schools Management Association, said.