The Delhi high court on Friday quashed reservation for the children of Group A officers of the central government in the Capital’s high-profile Sanskriti School and directed the Centre to see whether it can be made part of the existing Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan.
“We quash the 60% quota reserved in Sanskriti School for children of Group A officers of the Union of India who enter service through the Civil Services Examination,” a bench of justice Pradeep Nandrajog and justice Mukta Gupta said.
Currently the school, which is functional since 1998 and run by spouses of top government officers, has 60% of seats are for the children of Group A officers, 10% for general public, 5% for staff and 25% for children under the Economically Weaker Section (EWS) category.
The school, run by Civil Services Society, was established by the wives of the then serving cabinet secretary, secretaries of the ministry of external affairs and ministry of commerce and the wives of senior Group A officers. Group A officers of the central government are the members of the Indian Administrative Service, Indian Revenue Service, Indian Police Service, etc who enter service through the All India Civil Services Examination.
The HC also refused to accept the justification given by the Centre that Sanskriti School was created as the existing Kendriya Vidyalayas in Delhi did not have sufficient seats to accommodate the wards of Group A officers.
“Well, if this be so, another Kendriya Vidyalaya could have been established on the land in question given free of cost to the Civil Services Society,” the bench remarked adding the “narrowly tailored” quota system of the school created a “limited notion of diversity”.
“As regards Sanskriti School we direct the Union government to take an appropriate decision in light of the present decision and in particular whether the school can be made part of the existing Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan or alternatively in what manner the wrong can be rectified keeping in view the present decision,” the HC said.
Kendriya Vidyalayas were established by the Centre all over India to cater to the educational needs of the central government employees who have transferable jobs.
The real motive to establish the Sanskriti School was that “Group A officers of the central government were finding it difficult to admit their children in ‘good schools’, ‘elite schools’ the HC remarked.
“Reserving seats for a particular branch of the Indian services disadvantages children of persons engaged in other branches of the Indian Services,” the court said.
‘Separate treatment’ of Group A officers’ children violates both the spirit of equal protection under Article 14 and the spirit of equality of education under Article 21A of the Constitution, the bench remarked.
Admittedly, the school was allotted the 7.78 acres land at Chanakyapuri at a premium of Rs 1 with ground rent of Rs 1 per annum. Entire money required to construct the school building and its infrastructure was through public funds and Rs 10 crore was created as corpus fund.
An affidavit filed before the HC by the government had also declared that various government agencies and ministries donated Rs 15.94 crore to the Society for setting up of the school.
“The state cannot provide funds to any private individual to establish a school for an elite segment of the society,” the HC further said.
The bench, however, did not go into the issue of Sanskriti School charging nearly 40% less fee from the children of Group A officers as compared to other students. As per the Centre’s affidavit, children of Group A officers paid Rs 72,443 as annual fee whereas other students were charged Rs 1,12,960 for the year 2013-14.