Stop meddling in private school affairs, ‘set own house in order’: HC tells AAP govt

New Delhi: Flaying the Aam Aadmi Party government in Delhi for meddling in the affairs of private unaided schools, the Delhi High Court on Monday said that the AAP government should first “set its house in order” by administering public schools and improving them instead of trying to “take over” the admission process of private schools.

“Those people (government) who can’t administer a public school are trying to take over admissions of private schools,” the HC said reprimanding the AAP government and censured the government for its failure to improve the condition of public schools.

“Please set your house in order. Then there would be no reason for people to rush to private schools,” Justice Manmohan said, citing the poor state of public schools as the major reason behind the problem.

“One major reason for all this is the poor state of public schools. No one is addressing that issue,” he observed while issuing notice to the Delhi government and asking it to respond to the pleas by private schools seeking quashing of government’s January 6 order scrapping 62 criteria, including management quota, for nursery admissions.

During the hearing, the court said that the government cannot take away the autonomy of private schools, especially by an office order which has not been passed under any statutory provision.

In its November 28, 2014 verdict scrapping the point system of nursery admissions devised by the Lt Governor for private unaided schools, the court had also asked the government to amend the statute.

“But you do nothing and come out with another office order. Why do you (government) do it at the last moment,” it asked.

To this, Delhi government said it had asked schools to upload the criteria by December 8 last year but they did so by December end.

The court directed the government to file its response in a week and listed the matter for hearing on January 28.

The court also expressed doubts over scrapping of all 62 criteria, except for some like quotas for children whose parents were vegetarians, non-alcoholics or non-smokers.

“Such criteria, if being implemented by any private school for admissions, amounts to maladministration,” the court said.

It, however, clarified that parents as of now can apply even as per the 62 criteria, but “scrutiny of applications would be subject to final orders” in the petitions by Forum for Promotion of Quality Education and Action Committee of Unaided Recognized Private Schools.

The two associations, which represent a number of private unaided schools in the national capital, contended that the government cannot take away their autonomy with regard to nursery admissions when the same has been upheld by the high court and the Supreme Court.

They said they were not trying to champion the cause of all the scrapped 62 criteria, except a few like management quota. The school bodies also contended that when the high court’s earlier verdict had not been set aside, how could the government come out with the January 6 order.

The pleas filed by the associations has sought quashing of the AAP government’s decision to scrap management and other quotas, except for the Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) in the city’s private schools, saying the “order is absolutely without jurisdiction and is thus, liable to be quashed”.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had on January 6 called the management quota the breeding ground for “biggest scandal” in the education sector and said his government will not be a “mute spectator” to it.

The AAP government had also scrapped 62 “arbitrary and discriminatory” criteria listed by schools on their websites for admissions, but retained the 25 per cent quota for EWS.

Earlier, the high court, in an order, had asked the Delhi government not to micro-manage the admission process following which Education Department had allowed the schools to frame their respective criteria and put them on their websites.

(With PTI inputs)