The Lieutenant-Governor’s December 18, 2013 order imposing a rigid points-based nursery admission rules came under severe criticism from the Delhi high court which said the restrictions imposed on unaided private schools was “neither procedurally proper nor rational.”
“The government cannot impose a straitjacket formula of admission upon the schools under the guise of reasonable restriction and that too, without any authority of law,” Justice Manmohan remarked.
The HC noted that the stand take by the Delhi government was contrary to the guidelines issued by the central government under Section 35(1) of the Right to Education Act, 2009 on November 23, 2010.
The 2010 guidelines clearly states that for admission to 75% general category students, each school could formulate its own policy in terms of the objectives of the school, on rational, reasonable and just basis.
Justice Manmohan questioned the area restrictions imposed on schools under the guidelines saying the government cannot confine schools into admitting students from the locality only.
“By awarding as many as 75 out of 95 marks for neighbourhood, the L-G’s order place undue emphasis on location of residence of a child over which he/she has no control,” the HC said.
“Even in the United States of America, the concept of neighbourhood school or distance does not apply to private unaided schools. It only applies to public schools,” it added.
The court was also critical of the sibling marks. “By awarding five marks for siblings studying in the same school irrespective of the number of siblings a child may have, the guidelines place a single child in a disadvantageous position. After all, the parents who follow smaller family norms in the interest of the society cannot be placed at a disadvantageous position,” the court observed.
Children below the age of six years through their parents have a fundamental right to choose a school in which they wish to study under the Constitution, the high court remarked stressing on the different needs and requirements of parents.
“One school might emphasise Science or Arts or Language or Sports. Another might offer a firm code of conduct or a rigorous traditional academic programme. The parents would certainly want their child’s school to reflect the values of their family and community,” the high court said.
Justice Manmohan also blamed the lack of adequate number of good quality public schools for the chaos in the nursery admissions process.