Observing that the Constitutional Right to Education includes the right to “equality in education” which is “perhaps only possible through a Common School System”, Delhi High Court Friday quashed the 60 per cent quota for children of Group A officials of Indian Civil Services in Sanskriti School.
The bench of Justice Pradeep Nandrajog and Justice Mukta Gupta in its judgment applied the legal concept of “compelling reasons” for “segregation” evolved by the US Supreme Court, observing, “Reserving seats for a particular branch of the Indian Services disadvantages children of persons engaged in other branches.”
The bench observed the government had justified the funding and reservation allowed to the school on the grounds that there were “no good schools” or “elite schools” available for the children of Group A services officers. In its replies to the court, the government had also claimed there were not enough Kendriya Vidyalayas in the city to accommodate all students. The bench commented the government could have set up another KV in the city. “The state cannot provide funds to any private individual to establish a school for an elite segment of the society. Unless on the principles of reverse discrimination a justification can be given to make available funds to a private individual which establishes a school for the underprivileged, there can be no state funding to a private individual in the field of education,” said the bench.
“As regards Sanskriti School, we direct the Union Government to take an appropriate decision in light of the present decision and in particular whether the school can be made part of the existing Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan or alternatively in what manner the wrong can be rectified keeping in view the present decision.”
Noting that the school was situated on 10 acres given at only Re 1 as fee, and had been financed by grants from various central ministries, the bench held the school would come under the definition of “state” within the provisions of the Constitution, and could not provide reservation for the “elite group”.
It added the court’s opinion was “not against the Union Government creating good and quality schools. The opinion is against creating a good and a quality school with 60 per cent quota reserved for an elite segment of the society”.
The court had taken suo motu cognizance of the issue in 2006 after reports that the school was charging “nearly 40 per cent less fee from the children of Group-A officers of the Union Government vis-à-vis other children”.
* Sanskriti School, in Chanakyapuri, started in 1998. The school run by spouses of top government officers, had 60% of seats for children of Group A officers, 10% for general public, 5% for staff and 25% for children under EWS category.
* It has been rated among the best schools in the city since 2009.
* Run by Civil Services Society, it was established by the wives of the then serving cabinet secretary, secretaries of the ministry of external affairs and ministry of commerce and the wives of Group A officers.
* Group A officers of the central government are members of the IAS, IRS, IPS etc who enter service through the All India Civil Services exam.