The nursery admission schedule in the capital will remain unchanged, with the Delhi High Court Friday allowing private schools on DDA land to upload their own admissions criteria and issue forms for the time being. However, the bench of Justice Manmohan on Friday directed that the forms being issued by private schools will also include the “distance from the school”, where parents will have to mark whether their residence is less than 3 km, 3-6 km or over 6 km from the school.
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The court held that since scrutiny of forms for admissions is scheduled to take place after January 31, the final decision on whether to issue a stay order on the Delhi government’s January 7 order — making “distance” the primary criteria for admissions — will be taken before that date. The court will now hear the matter on January 19.
In the interim, the bench has allowed schools to continue the application process. “Parents shall fill the form in the prescribed format and the criteria mentioned by schools. The format of the form shall also contain the criteria mentioned in the impugned notification, dated 7 January 2017, regarding neighbourhood…,” directed the bench in its order.
The January 7 guidelines state that schools “shall not refuse admission to the residents of the locality”. Defining what neighbourhood would mean, the guidelines state that students who reside within 1 km of the school will be preferred. If seats are not filled, preference will be given to those residing within 1-3 km.
During the hearing, the bench also pulled up the government for the late notification. Due to the delay by the government, the high court said it too was being “made a villain” since it was “forced” to consider the admission criteria every year.
On Thursday, the bench had asked the government why the guidelines could not have been issued at least six months before the admission process began. The schools, in their arguments through senior advocates Sunil Gupta and Amit Sibal, told the court that such problems happen “every year”.
“The new criteria has completely changed the criteria laid down in the 2007 government order,” said Gupta.
Sibal also told the court that the notification “takes away the right of the schools to admit students, and the right of parents to choose the school.”
The NGO, Justice for All, also filed an impleadment application on the issue. Advocate Khagesh Jha told the bench that in 2004, the Supreme Court had issued directions to the Delhi government to ensure that the terms of DDA allotment letters are complied with. Therefore, he said, schools on DDA land were obliged to admit students according to the criteria in the allotment letter.