The Delhi High Court Monday asked the Delhi government to “get its own house in order” instead of trying to “take over the administration” of private unaided schools.
Observing that the lack of adequate government schools added to the problem of nursery admissions, Justice Manmohan said, “One major reason for all this is the poor state of public schools. No one is addressing that issue. Those people (government) who can’t administer a public school are trying to take over admissions of private schools…. Please set your house in order. Then there would be no reason for people to rush to private schools (then).”
The judge also noted that private unaided schools had challenged the nursery admission criteria in 2014, following which the high court had said they were free to fix their own criteria.
For now, the court has not issued any orders. It has asked the Delhi government to respond to the pleas by private schools, seeking quashing of the government’s January 6 order scrapping 62 criteria, including management quota, for nursery admissions.
The court also expressed doubts over scrapping of all 62 criteria, except for some such as quotas for children whose parents were vegetarians, non-alcoholics or non-smokers. Such criteria, if being implemented by any private school for admissions, amounts to maladministration.
However, it clarified that parents can apply as per the 62 criteria for now, but “scrutiny of applications would be subject to final orders on the pleas.
The bench also said as per its previous judgment, the government cannot take away the autonomy of private schools, especially by an office order which has not been passed under any statutory provision.
Referring to its November 28, 2014 verdict scrapping the point-system of nursery admissions devised by the Lt Governor for private unaided schools, the bench said it had told the government to amend the statute.
“But you do nothing and come out with another office order. Why do you (govt) do it at the last moment,” it asked.
The counsel for the Delhi government said the order was issued as the government had asked schools to upload the criteria by December 8 last year, but they did so only by the end of December.
The court directed the government to file its response in a week. The next hearing is on January 28.
The two associations which filed the pleas contended that the government cannot take away their autonomy with regard to nursery admissions when the same has been upheld by the high court and the Supreme Court.
Meanwhile, in a separate plea on the issue of nursery admissions in Sanskriti School, the HC bench commented that it cannot keep the admission process pending “indefinitely” on the ground that a plea against quashing of 60 per cent quota for wards of group-A government officials was pending in the Supreme Court.
The government’s additional standing counsel, Gautam Narayan, told the court there cannot be any such quota. The matter will now be heard Wednesday, as the appeal filed by the school is scheduled to be heard by the Supreme Court Tuesday.