The Delhi high court on Tuesday stayed a controversial nursery admission notification by the AAP government that made 298 private unaided schools, built on public land, to accept admission forms based only on the neighbourhood or distance criteria.
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.
Earlier, the court had directed the private schools to accept applications based on their own criteria as well as city administration guidelines. Tuesday’s order will give the schools a free hand to admit toddlers using their own criteria.
“State cannot impose a restriction on choice of parents to choose a school for their wards just because it is beneficial for the child,” justice Manmohan remarked.
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.
The court also 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”.
The court’s order came on pleas by the Action Committee for Unaided Recognised Private Schools – comprising more than 450 private unaided recognised schools in Delhi – and the Forum for Promotion of Quality Education and some parents challenging the government’s January 7 notification.
The notification gave priority to those living within a radius of 1 kilometre. 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.
Earlier, the high court stayed city government’s controversial 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.