The Delhi high court on Thursday told the Delhi government that it cannot force private minority unaided schools to follow a January 7 circular, which makes it mandatory for these schools to admit students in nursery, in the unreserved category, on the basis of neighbourhood criteria.
Justice Manmohan was of the view that minority schools, which have been given more autonomy on how they run and function, cannot be told to follow the government’s nursery circular.
“Delhi government cannot bring out notification which is contrary to the Constitution and Supreme Court judgments,” the judge said, adding, that he was “inclined to give a complete stay” to the notification with regard to minority schools.
“The government baffles me at times. Some time they just pass orders without reading the statutes and judgements (on private minority institutes),” the judge said as he posted the issue for hearing on Friday, when a direction from the court is expected.
On January 7, the government brought out nursery admission circular that made private schools — built on Delhi Development Authority land — accept admission forms based only on the neighbourhood or distance criteria.
The circular told minority schools to treat “unreserved seats” as “Open/General seats” in which admission will be conducted on the basis of neighbourhood criteria.
Three private unaided minority schools — Mount Carmel School, Ryan International School and Somerville School — have moved the court contending that the circular infringed on their rights to admit students.
The court pulled up the government for bringing out notification at the “eleventh hour”. It asked the Centre about its policy regarding private schools running on land allotted to them by government at concessional rates across the country.
It issued notice to the ministries of human resource development and urban development seeking their replies on whether there is a neighbourhood criteria for admission in schools.
The court also sought to know the stand of Delhi Development Authority (DDA) and Land and Development Office here, on the neighbourhood criteria set by the city government.
One of the major problems that the 298 private schools, built on DDA land, are facing is that they can no longer deny admission to anyone who seeks admission from their neighbourhood.
The notification gave priority to those living within a radius of 1km. In case seats remain vacant, those living within 3km radius will get a chance.