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Proximity rule unconstitutional, unfair to minorities: HC

Court says it is inclined to grant a stay on government’s notification in favour of minority schools

January 20, 2017 01:21 am | Updated 01:21 am IST - NEW DELHI:

The Delhi High Court on Thursday termed “unconstitutional” the AAP government’s guidelines to minority unaided schools to grant admission to minority community students only from the neighbourhood or from within a radius of 1 kilometre.

“How can you tell the minority schools to admit minority students from within one kilometre? How can you interfere in their operations. It is against the settled principle of law as per Article 13 of the Constitution,” said Justice Manmohan.

Inclined to grant stay

The court made it clear that it was inclined to grant a stay on the January 7 notification of the Delhi government in favour of minority schools. “I am inclined to grant a complete stay for the time being the issue is pending before the court as far as minority schools are concerned,” said the court.

It, however, posted the matter for hearing on Friday on the request of the Delhi government which was represented by Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain.

The court was hearing petitions filed by Mount Carmel School and Somerville School against the government notification that the private schools on government land will have to compulsorily admit students from within one kilometre radius.

The ASG told the court that “the minority institutions can admit students from the minority community and whatever seats are left, that open slice can be for admission by following the neighbourhood criterion”.

Directive unlawful

“How can you say you are not interfering? Can you tell St. Stephen's college to admit minority students from the neighbourhood? Can you say that the settled law is applicable only to professional colleges and not kindergarten? The Bench asked ASG.

“We are not interfering with their functioning of the salary structure etc. This is just about nursery admission,” the ASG replied.

To this the Bench said, “This is against the basic structure of the Constitution. The law and the Supreme Court judgments that gave authority to minority institutions was to ensure that the minorities do not feel alienated”.

While the Bench was inclined to grant a stay, the government requested that the matter be posted for Friday.

‘Cannot rush matter’

The government also said that it can extend the date for form submission and scrutiny when the Bench said the matter cannot be heard and decided in a rush. “In a week's time, the matter cannot be decided. How can you bring notification at the eleventh hour. So that the matter cannot be heard and is rendered infructuous. These last minute notifications put everybody under pressure. This is not the way. Things should be proper,” said Justice Manmohan.

Meanwhile, the NGO Justice For All moved a petition before a division Bench seeking transfer of petitions concerning nursery admissions before another Bench. The division Bench refused to grant any relief.

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