The Punjab and Haryana High Court issued a notice to the Chandigarh Administration in a petition filed by the Independent Schools Association Chandigarh and the New Public School (NPS) Society seeking full reimbursement for providing education to students belonging to economically weaker sections (EWS).
Under the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, schools are required to reserve 25 percent seats for students belonging to the EWS category. According to the Act, the amount is later reimbursed to the schools by the state. Issuing the notice in the petition, Justice Sudhir Mittal said in the order, “Liberty is granted to seek interim relief, in case of any emergency.” The matter was adjourned for hearing on March 20.
Representing the petitioners, advocate Aashish Chopra told the Court that NPS Society was an unaided private institution and was also declared a minority educational institution in 2013. The advocate submitted that the reimbursement was required for providing education to the students under the 25 per cent students who belong to the economically weaker sections of the society, in accordance with the RTE Act. Chopra also informed the court that reimbursements had been made only up to 2015.
In December 2019, the Chandigarh Administration had refused to provide full reimbursement to the school for the EWS students for the period after 2015 on the grounds that the claims of reimbursement stand satisfied.
However, the petitioners in the court had argued that the reasoning was erroneous because the reimbursement had been done only for the entry level class and that too in respect of 10 per cent students only.
The Administration had decided to reimburse only for 10 per cent of seats out of the total 25 per cent reserved seats in view of a 1996 notification regarding land allotment under which the schools are under an obligation to reserve 15 per cent seats for EWS students.
However, the petitioners told the court that the NPS Society was not covered under the 1996 scheme and is not even covered under the RTE Act on account of its minority status.
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