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A minor-ity question on a scale of 100

Now, the debate is whether minority institutions should follow Ganguly Committee’s 100-point criteria for nursery admissions, reports Harish V Nair.
Hindustan Times | By Harish V Nair, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JUL 15, 2007 12:27 AM IST

Kirti Sisodia, the daughter of a Magistrate in a Delhi court, could not secure admission in the prestigious Montford School last year.

The reason — the school did not follow the Ganguly Committee’s 100-point criteria for nursery admissions.

The school contended that being a minority-run institution, they were outside the domain of the new rules. Kirti’s father moved the High Court challenging the denial of admission.

But he got no relief from the court, which, in February this year, categorically ruled that “unaided minority schools are not covered by the Ganguly Committee recommendations and therefore, their rights have been clearly safeguarded”.

The scene could change if the Delhi High Court converts the latest recommendations of the Ganguly Committee — submitted on Friday — into a rule. Then, all schools like Montford, St Columba’s or Mater Dei will have to adhere to the 100-point norm while giving admission to students who do not belong to the minority community.

Para 4.6 of the revised recommendations reads: “For minority schools, the freedom to admit children remains safeguarded. Schools would retain their right to admission as per their own norms in respect of minority children. With regard to admission of non-minority children, it would be advisable that these institutions also follow the norms and procedure of the common admission process, as recommended by this committee”.

Says lawyer Ashok Aggarwal, whose PIL resulted in the new admission rules: “The earlier recommendations too had not given a blanket exemption to minority schools but there were some ambiguity and loopholes, which these minority schools utilised.”

“But this time, the limit has been specified. The line has been drawn,” Aggarwal added.

Montford School’s counsel, Romy Chacko, does not agree: “The Ganguly committee has no right to lay down rules that harm minority rights protected by the constitution.”

“The Supreme Court in PA Inamdar’s case had said that minority institutions are free to devise their own procedure for admissions to their institutions,” he added.

Asked whether Montford would challenge the rule, Chacko said, “There is no need for that. The High Court itself had earlier this year upheld the complete freedom of minority schools in admitting children”.

Aggarwal said the view taken by the single Bench of Justice Baddar Durrez Ahmed was against the letter and spirit of the repeated directions of the Division Bench hearing the main case on nursery admissions. The Bench had completely exempted minority-run schools from the domain of the new admission criteria.

Incidentally, it was on a case against Montford that the High Court evolved an alternative mode of admission banning interviews.

Montford maintains that it is following a procedure that was more transparent and effective than the Ganguly panel’s rules.

Kirti Sisodia’s father has filed an appeal against Justice Ahmed’s order before the Division Bench.

What will be the court’s stand now, in the wake of the fresh recommendations from the panel? Will it bring relief to kids like Kirti? This will be clear when Chief Justice MK Sharma’s court hears the revised recommendations of the Ganguly panel on August 2.

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