The Delhi high court on Tuesday reserved its decision on an application seeking interim stay of its single judge bench verdict quashing the points system for nursery admission brought in by the Lieutenant Governor for private unaided schools in Delhi.
"We will consider and pass an order on the application (for interim stay)," a bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice RS Endlaw said.
Senior advocate PP Malhotra, appearing for the Delhi government's directorate of education which came in appeal against the single judge's judgement, contended that "there cannot be any discrimination or question of autonomy in the matter of admitting children around three years of age in nursery".
However, the court during the hearing made an observation that they have to think of the consequences as the schools and even the education department are about to issue their notification in regard to nursery admission.
It also said that the single judge has dealt with the issue and have given its findings, which is fair enough.
"Prima facie we do not feel any of his (single judge) findings are erroneous," the bench observed.
The bench said that it will pass an order on wednesday and can fix a date after the vacation for hearing of the main petitions.
The single judge had passed the order on November 28, this year while disposing of two petitions by a committee and a forum representing the private schools which had challenged the LG's December 18, 2013 and December 27, 2013 notifications by which the points system was introduced.
Contending that the order passed by the single judge is "totally wrong", "erroneous" and "against the law", the Delhi government's counsel had said that the verdict has not appreciated the correct legal position and scheme of Article 21 (Protection of Life and Personal Liberty) and Article 21-A (Right to Education) of the Constitution besides laying undue emphasis on the right of schools.
"The judge erred to hold that if parents are given freedom to choose school, the good schools would attract more students and would expand and not-so-good schools would lose students," the petition said.
"Quash and set aside the impugned judgement dated November 28 with all consequential benefits and reliefs," the government had pleaded to the court.
An NGO has also moved the High Court against the single bench order on the ground that the judge has erred in law in not appreciating the arguments that there is no question of schools' autonomy in the matter of admissions of tiny tots.
Under the earlier system, out of a total 100 points, 70 were given if the child lives in the neighbourhood of the school, additional 20 were given if a sibling is studying there, five points more if either parent is an alumni and another five points if it is an inter-state transfer case.
Draw of lots were held at each point level. Thereafter, the government had on February 27 issued an order abolishing the five points that were being awarded in inter-state transfer cases.
The single judge had said the private unaided schools have the fundamental right to "maximum autonomy in day-to-day administration, including right to admit students".
The court had also said that "children should have the option to go to a neighbourhood school, but their choice cannot be restricted to a school in their locality".
"This court is unable to appreciate that a student's educational fate can be relegated to his position on a map," Justice Manmohan had said in his 69-page judgement.