Thousands of parents might be staring at a nursery admission chaos again this year after the Delhi high court directed nearly 300 private schools on Friday to accept applications based on their own criteria as well as city administration guidelines.
The HC is hearing petitions challenging a Delhi government’s notification last week that made 298 private schools — built on Delhi Development Authority land — accept admission forms based only on the neighbourhood or distance criteria.
“To avoid any ambiguity, parents shall fill forms in the criteria mentioned by the respective schools. The form shall also contain the criteria mentioned in the impugned notification…regarding neighbourhood,” justice Manmohan ordered. He said scrutiny of the forms would be subject to further orders.
But the decision triggered confusion as parents feared the already delayed admission process would get longer and more muddled.
“I already shortlisted schools based on the distance criterion but now will apply to more schools but don’t know what will happen finally,” said Vandana Pandey, a resident of Shahdara.
Around 150,000 aspirants vie for 125,000 seats every year but the process gets caught almost every year in last-minute litigation as either parents or schools go to court.
The Delhi directorate of education (DoE) has said schools on DDA land will accept nursery admission applications between January 10 and January 31 and thereafter, the forms would be scrutinised.
Justice Manmohan also issued asked the DoE, DDA and the lieutenant governor to respond by January 19, the next date of hearing.
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 have challenged the government’s January 7 notification restricting private schools built on DDA land to admit students only using the neighbourhood or distance criteria.
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 would get a chance.
This meant these schools could no longer deny admission to anyone from the neighbourhood.
“We welcome this decision as it restores the school’s autonomy in the admission process. Schools have been given total say in deciding the admission criteria for nursery,” said S K Bhattacharya, president of the action committee.
(WITH INPUTS FROM HEENA KAUSAR)