A division bench of Chief Justice N.V. Ramana and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw dismissed the plea of unaided private schools challenging notification of Lt. Governor (LG) Najeeb Jung, fixing the admission criteria for nursery.
The bench, in its order, said that it would be “detrimental to the interest of children as well as parents” who are seeking admission.
“We are of the view that appellants (schools) have not been able to satisfy us of any irreparable loss and injury to them from the non-grant of the interim order sought,” it said.
The court added: “We are in agreement with the single judge that any interference at this stage would create confusion and would be detrimental to the interest of children as well as parents of the wards who are seeking admission.”
The nursery admission process, which was to start from Jan 15, was on hold after the government told the bench it “would wait for the court’s decision on the issue before commencing the admission process”.
The bench also said that, significantly, the LG’s orders are not challenged by the parents “who appear to have welcomed the same”.
“The process for admission to schools has already been delayed and the date fixed, of Jan 15, 2014, for commencement thereof for the current academic year has also passed… The petition has no merit and we dismiss the same,” the bench said.
It said that for the larger issue on private schools’ autonomy, government interference and arbitrariness, the single judge is directed to adjudicate the matter.
The private unaided schools appealed against the single-judge order of Jan 10 which denied any relief to private schools on their plea that the Dec 18 notification of the LG was “absolutely illegal, arbitrary and without jurisdiction”.
The schools said the new guidelines were “arbitrary”.
According to the new guidelines, admissions would continue on the 100-point basis, but children living within eight km radius would be included in the criteria of “neighbourhood”, carrying 70 points.
The schools opposed the notification, saying it was against the Ganguly Committee recommendation.
“The Ganguly Committee had said you cannot restrict people to one area. Giving 70 points out of 100 to neighbourhood is arbitrary,” said the schools in their plea, seeking that the notification be quashed.
However, the government said as per the Ganguly Committee report, schools cannot have a screening process for admitting three to six-year-old children.
The notification completely deleted the management quota seats. Till last year, schools could reserve 20 percent of their seats as management quota.
As per the new notification, grandchildren of staff members will also be entitled to a five percent quota. This was earlier confined only to children.
A quarter of the seats have to be reserved for the economically weaker sections and disadvantaged groups. Children who have a sibling studying in the same school will get 20 points. Girls will get five points.