Private unaided recognised schools have freedom to frame their own guidelines

The Delhi High Court on Wednesday asked the Lieutenant-Governor to decide within three months a representation seeking amendments to Clause 14 of the Recognised Schools (Admission Procedure for Pre-Primary Class) Order, 2007, to bring it in line with Section 13 read with Section 2(o) of the Right to Education (RTE) Act, 2009, which prohibits screening of children for admissions to nursery.

A Division Bench of Justice N.V. Ramana and Justice Manmohan passed the direction on a petition by non-voluntary organisation Social Jurist seeking a direction to the Lieutenant-Governor to take a decision on its representation for the amendments.

The petitioner had moved the Court when there was no response from the Lieutenant-Governor’s office to its representation.

The 2007 order issued by the Delhi Government gives freedom to private unaided recognised schools here to frame their own guidelines for nursery admissions.

The petitioner through its lawyer Ashok Agarwal argued that by giving a free hand to the Capital’s private unaided recognised schools to formulate their own guidelines for nursery admissions, the Government had violated Section 13 read with 2 (o) of the Right to Education Act.

The petitioner said that unaided schools in Delhi admitted most children in nursery or pre-primary classes itself and then promoted them to elementary classes.

Mr. Agarwal further submitted that the High Court in its February 19 judgment this year on another petition had said that “though we have held that Right to Education Act is not applicable to nursery schools, in our opinion there cannot be any difference yardstick to be adopted for education to children up to the age of 14 years irrespective of the fact that it applies to only elementary education.’’

“It is the right time for the Government to consider the applicability of Right to Education Act to the nursery classes as well, as in many of the States admissions are made right from the nursery classes and the children so admitted are automatically allowed to continue from Class I,’’ the Bench had stated. In that sense, the provisions of Section 13 would be rendered meaningless insofar as it prohibits screening procedure at the time of selection. Importance of education is per se applicable to every child right from admission to nursery classes till it completes the eighth standard,’’ the Bench had stated.

“It is common knowledge that though there is obligation on the State to provide free and compulsory education to children and the corresponding responsibility of the institution to afford the same, educational institution cannot be allowed to run as “teaching shops’’ as the same would be detrimental to equal opportunity to children,’’ the Bench had observed.

“This reality must not be ignored by the State while considering the observations made in this judgment. Hence, we only observe that to avail the benefit of the Right to Education Act to a child seeking admission for nursery school as well, necessary amendment should be considered by the State. We hope and trust that the Government may take the above observation in the right spirit and act accordingly,’’ the Bench had hoped.

The Court had then also stated that the petitioner might give a representation to the Lieutenant-Governor for making an appropriate amendment to the Government order granting autonomy to unaided schools to frame guidelines for nursery admission, Mr. Agarwal submitted.

The petitioner accordingly had made a representation to the Lieutenant-Governor and followed it up with a reminder but there was no response from him. Therefore, the petitioner moved the Court, Mr. Agarwal said.

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