Nursery admissions: HC frees schools to frame own rules

The main pleas challenging the single bench order will be heard from January 15.

Written by Aneesha Mathur | New Delhi | Updated: December 11, 2014 3:09 am
The pleas had said the freedom given to schools would lead to imbalance in admissions. (Source: Express archive) The pleas had said the freedom given to schools would lead to imbalance in admissions. (Source: Express archive)

Unaided private schools in the capital received a shot in the arm on Wednesday with a division bench of the Delhi High Court observing that, prima facie, there was no case to issue a stay order on the rights granted to them to frame their own nursery admission guidelines.

On November 28, a single bench of the High Court had quashed the points system issued by the Lt-Governor. It also allowed schools to form their own criteria within the framework of the Ganguly Committee recommendations and the Directorate of Education (DoE) order of 2007.

The DoE and NGO Social Jurist had challenged the judgment, asking for an interim stay. However, the bench of Chief Justice
G Rohini and Justice R S Endlaw — in a 14-page judgment — dismissed the  applications and observed that the single bench had declared the L-G orders “illegal” and “unconstitutional”.

“Once a judge of this court has held so after hearing arguments spanning over several months, we will not be justified to allow a state of affairs — which has been found and declared to be illegal — to continue even for a day more,” the division bench held.

The main pleas challenging the single bench order will be heard from January 15.

For now, the court has dismissed the DoE argument that provisions of the Right to Education Act will be violated by granting autonomy to schools. “A division bench of this court in Social Jurist supra has already held the provisions of the RTE Act not applicable to nursery schools,” the court said.

Further, the court noted that the number of admission seekers was much more than the seats available in schools and “any uncertainty in admission rules causes grave prejudice to the parents”.

The pleas had also said the freedom given to schools will lead to imbalance in admissions. Senior advocate P P Malhotra and Ashok Aggarwal — appearing for DoE and Social Jurist respectively — had argued “there cannot be any discrimination or question of autonomy in the matter of admitting children around three years of age in nursery”.

Dismissing the argument, the court said, “Instead of one child, another child may be admitted to nursery classes in unaided recognised schools. To us, at this stage, all children are equal and we do not find this to be a ground for us to grant any interim stay.”

Schools happy, parents worried

Private schools on Wednesday welcomed the Delhi High Court order refusing to grant interim stay on its single-judge verdict quashing the point system for nursery admissions brought in by the Lt-Governor.

“It is a balanced judgment and all stakeholders should now get together for the children of Delhi. At the same time, it is imperative that the government rethinks its policy on nursery because its 2,000 schools cannot cater to all the children of the capital,” said Ameeta Mulla Wattal, principal of Springdales School, Pusa Road, and chairperson of the National Progressive Schools Conference (NPSC).

Last week, NPSC issued broad guidelines to 80-odd schools under its ambit along with an admission schedule. The action committee for unaided private schools, the umbrella body for Delhi’s schools, will also hold a meeting to come out with admission guidelines by Thursday.

But with NPSC coming out with its own schedule, parents are confused over who will decide the schedule this year, with the Directorate of Education (DoE) deciding to adopt a ‘wait and watch’ approach for now. “We are yet to take a decision. We are still studying the court order and may come out with an action plan in a day or two. If we have to make a schedule, we will do so,” Padmini Singla, the DoE director, said.

“It is going to be a confusing year for parents with schools formulating different criteria. Most parents have also expressed disappointment over more than 50 per cent seats being reserved this year for different categories. Parents want a common admission policy and schedule, but it seems that is not going to happen,” Sumit Vohra of admissionsnursery.com said. (ENS)

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