February 8, 2017

Nursery Admissions Issue- A race against time.....

"It is a race against time," was how the  Delhi High Court on Tuesday observed while referring to the "tight schedule" before which it has to decide on the pleas challenging the Delhi government's notifications on neighbourhood criteria for nursery admission.Justice Manmohan was referring to the deadline of February 14 for submission of nursery application forms in Delhi schools.
The court heard the arguments by petitioners, including section of parents and two school groups challenging the Delhi government's December 19, 2016 and January 7 notifications that made 298 private schools, built on Delhi Development Authorityland, to accept nursery forms based only on the neighbourhood or distance criteria.
HC asked the schools if their challenge to the notification can be "bifurcated" so that the issue of land allotted by DDA and the neighbourhood criteria could be argued separately.
The school's advocate replied that the issue can be bifurcated since due to the new circulars, a fresh ground of discrimination between two school groups has cropped up.
The school body also alleged that the government has "discriminated" among schools as the neighbourhood criteria has been applied against only 298 schools while it has not been made mandatory for the other 1,400.
"If the issue of children going to 1,400 schools is not a matter of concern for the government then why is it a concern for students of 298 others? Why only 298 schools have been subjected to this kind of treatment? It is nothing but arbitrariness and discrimination," the lawyer said.
The school association argued that interest of 298 schools has to be safeguarded and being the government, it should not discriminate between students, more so, when there is no definition of neighbourhood criteria in the letter allotting land to the schools.
On Monday HC asked the Centre to explain its stand with regard to the neighbourhood norm. It had also directed the government to show the copy of allotment letters on the basis of which neighbourhood criteria was imposed.
The two school groups — Action Committee of Unaided Recognised Private Schools, Forum for Promotion of Quality Education — and parents have contended that these circulars are bad in law and have curtailed their fundamental laws.