AAP government on Thursday felt the heat of the Delhi High Court for coming out with nursery admission norms at the “eleventh hour” which has not only caused “chaos and confusion” but also wasted “valuable” judicial time.
“Why do you come out with such notifications at the eleventh hour always? Every notification is in December end or January. This notification should have been issued for the next year (2018), so that parents are ready in advance. The moment the issue comes before the court, we have to devote valuable time leaving aside other matters … Why do you put everyone in jeopardy? Why this chaos and confusion every time? The government should be for the people and it should not be obstructionist,” Justice Manmohan said when the matter came up for hearing before him.
Delhi government, in their defence, said the decision was taken with “good intentions”. Two groups representing private unaided schools have challenged a condition in the letter allotting DDA land to them under which admissions have been restricted to the locality where these institutions are situated. The two school bodies and some parents have also challenged the Delhi government’s nursery admission norms which enforces the clause in the DDA allotment letter, thereby restricting admission in these institutions located on DDA land to their respective neighbourhoods.
However, the Delhi government said the issue should be listed before the judge hearing education matter, after which Justice Manmohan said the petitions be assigned to the appropriate bench.
Later in the day, the petitions of the school bodies and parents were listed for hearing before Justice V K Rao. Justice Rao heard arguments on behalf of the schools and the parents and then listed it for further hearing on Friday. During the hearing in the second half of the day, the schools contended that the Delhi government’s decision has taken away their autonomy to admit students and this could scare away entrepreneurs who set up these private unaided schools in the national capital where more schools are needed.
The Action Committee of Unaided Recognised Private Schools and Forum for Promotion of Quality Education, who have moved the court, argued that the neighbourhood restriction was “not reasonable”. They said that under the Right to Education Act of 2009, 25 per cent of the seats were reserved in private unaided schools for children belonging to poorer sections of society and disadvantaged groups who lived in the neighbourhood.
It said that ever since this reservation under the Act has come into force, it “supersedes and subsumes within it” all prior contractual and other agreements, including the DDA allotment letter.
“So there is no harking back to any letter of allotment,” they contended. The parents said that while they were not concerned with the terms of the allotment letter, they were opposed to Delhi government’s decision as it restricted their choice or right to decide where to send their children for study.
“This choice or right cannot be restricted by an executive order,” they said.
Also read: Private schools on DDA land to move court
Meanwhile, Delhi government said that by a circular of January 9, they have extended that last date for submission of applications to January 31 from January 23. The admission process had started from January 2. About 298 private unaided schools on DDA land were affected by the nursery admission guidelines which state that such institutes “shall not refuse admission to the residents of the locality”.
Defining what neighbourhood would mean, the guidelines say that students residing within one km of the school will be preferred and if seats are not filled, preference will be given to students residing within 1-3 kms of the school.
“Students residing beyond 6 kms shall be admitted only in case vacancies remain unfilled even after considering all the students within 6 km area,” as per the guidelines. The first list of selected candidates, including those in the wait list, along with marks allotted under point system, will be announced by schools on February 15, as per the admission schedule released by the Delhi government.