While hearing the case of nursery admission, the Delhi High Court said that ‘It is a race against time,’ 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.
At the outset of the hearing, Justice Manhoman said, “It is a race against time. We are running in a very tight schedule before which this matter has to be decided.”
The court’s observations assume significance as the process for applying for nursery admission in schools in New Delhi would end on February 14.
The high court is hearing a batch of petitions filed by the 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 Authority land, to accept nursery admission forms based only on the neighbourhood or distance criteria.
During the hearing, the court asked the counsel appearing for one of the school bodies, “Their (government’s) argument is that do not entertain the challenge regarding the land allotment letter. Can you bifurcate in the sense that if challenge to the allotment letter is not undertaken by the court then can you challenge the criteria independently of the allotment?”
Responding to this, the counsel said that the issue can be bifurcated as because of the consequence of these new circulars, a new ground of discrimination between two classes of students has cropped up.
The school body alleged that the Delhi 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 schools.
“If the issue of children going to schools in around 1,400 schools is not a matter of concern for the government then why it is a concern for students of 298 schools. Why only 298 schools have been subjected to this kind of treatment? It is nothing but arbitrariness and discrimination,” the lawyer said.
He also argued that interest of these 298 schools has to be safeguarded and being the government, it should not discriminate between students.
He also contended that there is no definition of neighbourhood criteria in the letter allotting land to the schools.