Holding out hope that nursery admissions this time round won’t be the mess they were last year, the Delhi high court on Friday empowered private unaided schools in the Capital to fix their own criteria, quashing last year’s government-mandated points-based system.
The court also restored the 20% management quota followed by schools before it was scrapped last year. With admission season just around the corner, the verdict effectively gives private schools “maximum autonomy in day-to-day administration, including right to admit students”.
The Delhi government plans to challenge the verdict in a higher court, leading to apprehension of protracted litigation and, thereby, of a repeat of last year’s chaos.In 2013, schools had reluctantly followed lieutenant governor Najeeb Jung’s points-based system that earmarked a massive 70 points for neighbourhood, 20 for siblings and 5 for alumni while doing away with the management quota. Five points for inter-state transfer cases was later scrapped by the government after parents went to court against it.
Various schools and parents had challenged the L-G’s guidelines in court, triggering a messy fight with more than 15 petitions filed. The admission season, which starts in January and concludes by March 31, had dragged on till May-end and the academic year had started from July instead of April. The L-G had defended his decision then, calling it an effort to end “commercialisation of education”.
However, the high court on Friday said Jung’s actions were “neither procedurally proper nor rational”. In his verdict, Justice Manmohan pointed out that the government did not submit any document or material to show schools were indulging in any malpractice.
The court also said that by awarding 70 out of 95 points for neighbourhood, the L-G’s guidelines had placed “undue emphasis on location of residence of a child over which she/he has no control”.
“This court is unable to appreciate that a student’s educational fate can be relegated to his position on a map,” the judgment read.
It added that by awarding five points for siblings studying in the same school, the guidelines placed an only child at a disadvantage.
The court said that the power to choose a school has to rest primarily with the parents and not the administration, and opined that “by increasing parental choice and granting schools the autonomy to admit students, the accountability of private schools can be ensured”.
For now, private schools can go back to the ‘flexible’ pre-2013 system of admission. This means they can fix their own criteria and the quantum of points to go with them. A school can choose to retain or omit the neighbourhood criteria, for instance.
Watch: Delhi schools will decide on nursery admission guidelines: HC verdict