A Delhi High Court bench on Monday dismissed the AAP government’s appeal against the interim stay on mandatory use of the neighbourhood criterion as notified on January 17. The bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Sangita Dhingra Sehgal refused to interfere with the single-judge verdict which allowed 298 private unaided schools, built on public land, to go ahead with the nursery admission process using their own criteria.
Around 150,000 aspirants vie for 125,000 seats every year but the process gets caught in last-minute litigation as either parents or schools go to court almost every year.
A notification by the Delhi government on January 7 made it compulsory for the 298 private schools built on Delhi Development Authority land to admit children for nursery who live in that neighbourhood or stay within a certain distance from the school. In case seats remained vacant, those living within a 3-kilometre radius could get a chance. Which meant these schools could no longer deny admission to anyone from the neighbourhood.
On February 14, Justice Manmohan termed the notification as “arbitrary, unreasonable and against the public interest” before ordering a stay on its application on the private unaided schools for this year’s nursery admission process. The court had questioned the city government’s decision to impose the neighbourhood restriction to only those schools that are built on Delhi Development Authority land.
“Public interest cannot be confined to 298 schools,” Justice Manmohan remarked adding, “primary cause of nursery admission chaos is the lack of good schools in the capital”.
Earlier, the same single-judge bench had stayed a part of the nursery admission notification that made it mandatory for private unaided minority schools to admit students, in the unreserved category, on the basis of neighbourhood criteria. The order gave relief to around 15 minority schools in the capital that were set up on public land.