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Punjab and Haryana HC stays Sikh minority status to Chandigarh’s St Kabir Public School

Setback: Chandigarh had appealed against national commission’s decision to grant Sikh minority status to Sector-26 school without its NOC.

punjab Updated: Feb 22, 2018 14:38 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Punjab and Haryana HC,minority status,St Kabir Public School
The central legislation mandates it for recognised private schools to reserve 25% seats for students from economically weaker section (EWS). (HT File )

The Punjab and Haryana high court on Wednesday stayed the National Commission for Minority Educational Institutes (NCMEI) decision to grant Sikh minority status to St Kabir Public School, Sector 26. The Chandigarh administration had approached the high court (HC) against the commission’s decision taken in September 2014.

The city has 82 private schools, 22 of which are minority schools. Only two schools have got a no-objection certificate from the UT administration out of the 11 schools that opted for the status after 2010.

There has been a spurt in the number of schools seeking the minority status after the apex court ruled in 2012 that minority schools are not bound to reserve 25% seats in entry-level classes under the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act (RTE), 2009.

The central legislation mandates it for recognised private schools to reserve 25% seats for students from economically weaker section (EWS).

Last year, the UT had moved the HC against Sikh minority status to Vivek High School, Sector 38. The matter is pending before court.

In the present case, the administration has argued that according to the 2011 census Sikhs comprise second largest community after Hindus in Chandigarh.

However, due to minority status, St Kabir is outside the purview of the RTE Act for reservations to EWS. With the administration having no control over the school’s fee regulation and no provision for the parents to approach the officials with any complaint, the “school has complete monopoly on the functioning without any fear of state supervision or accountability”, the UT has stated.

The UT has argued that timing of the application indicates that the only purpose for seeking the minority status is to circumvent the RTE Act.

The UT has argued that nowhere on the school website it has been mentioned that it is doing any work for Sikh minorities nor the administration was informed about it in 1988, when the permission to set up the school was given.

The administration further argued that the minority commission has been empowered with appellate powers only once there is an order of refusal for granting an NOC by the competent authority.

But in the case in hand, the school had not received the NOC from the administration, and the commission granted the minority status even after the UT contested it.

First Published: Feb 22, 2018 14:38 IST