A petition challenging the Delhi High Court’s judgment upholding the state government's direction to private schools to admit only four-year-olds in the pre-primary class was mentioned before the Supreme Court on Thursday. The bench headed by Chief Justice KG Balakrishnan took note of the submissions made by senior advocate Soli Sorabjee and fixed the next date of hearing for December 14.
Sorabjee, appearing for Forum for Promotion of Quality Education for All, a non-governmental organisation, said the high court's order was forcing schools to abolish one of the two pre-primary classes, which such schools have been conducting for decades for the benefit and welfare of children. The closure of such classes would be against the interest of children.
The Delhi High Court bench headed by Chief Justice MK Sharma had on November 14 dismissed a review petition filed by the NGO. The court had said that Article 21 (a) provided for free and compulsory education to all children between the age of 6 years and 14 years. Disagreeing with its contentions, the bench stated the Article did not prescribe any condition as to what should be a minimum age for admission of a child.
Urging the court to set aside the high court judgment the NGO claimed the directions were unacceptable and amounted to illegal interference in the autonomy enjoyed by private unaided schools in Delhi.
"The first year of pre-primary, being nursery, permits the child to get adjusted to a new environment which may take him or her even up to a year. Subsequently in the second year of pre-primary, the child is introduced to the concept of writing and is prepared so that the transition to formal schooling may be smooth," the petition stated.