AAP Govt Not Authorised To Scrap Management Quota : Delhi HC
In a huge setback to the Kejriwal government, the Delhi High Court on February 4, 2016, stayed its order to scrap management quota as well as 11 other criteria pertaining to nursery admissions in private schools. The Delhi High Court while staying its order said it was issued “without any authority”. Needless to say, the Kejriwal government has to do a lot of serious introspection on this issue. While reacting to the Delhi High Court’s order, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said that the government will file a review petition in the High Court. From this, it is quite palpable that the Kejriwal government is not prepared to give up without fighting till the very last. This alone explains why it has been decided to file a review petition in the High Court.
The Delhi High Court in its interim order had said: “There is nothing in the 11 criteria which would show that they are unreasonable or based on whims and fancies and/or they can lead to mal-administration.” It is a no-brainer that this is a scathing indictment of the Kejriwal government for the whimsical and arbitrary manner in which it scrapped the management quota. Delhi High Court by staying its order on 11 criteria in the nursery admissions in private schools left no room of doubt that there is nothing in the eleven criteria that were unreasonable or based on whims and fancies that could possibly lead to maladministration. The eleven criterion also include those relating to the proven track record of parents, their proficiency in music or sports, their empirical achievements, the gender of the child and whether the kid was the first born or adopted. However, the court allowed only one criteria out of 62 criteria listed by the Arvind Kejriwal government.
This is certainly a big jolt to the Kejriwal government. Justice Manmohan said that the government’s January 6, 2016 decision on nursery admissions in private unaided schools was in violation with the Lieutenant Governor’s 2007 order. The Delhi High Court further stated that the freedom of private schools in regard to nursery admissions cannot be limited by an office order and it has to be done under the law. Unless this order is reversed by itself or by a review or by a larger bench, the Kejriwal government has no option but to abide by it and make sure that the order of the Delhi High Court is fully complied with.
The Delhi High Court, however, added that if there were any malpractices with regard to nursery admission criterion in private unaided schools, then they should be investigated and taken to their logical conclusion. The court also clarified that the observations taken by it are only prima facie and not final. This clearly implies that changes can still be made.
The Delhi government by its January 6 order scrapped 62 “arbitrary and discriminatory” criteria listed by schools on their websites for admissions, but retained the 25 percent quota for economically weaker sections (EWS). The High Court of Delhi was hearing pleas filed by Action Committee Unaided Recognised Private Schools and Forum for Promotion of Quality Education for All, seeking quashing of AAP government’s decision to scrap management and all other quotas, except for EWS in Delhi’s private unaided schools for nursery admissions. They claimed that the order was “without jurisdiction and contrary to and violative of various judgments passed by the Supreme Court as well as by various benches of the High Court, relating to the autonomy of private unaided schools to regulate their admissions”.
It would be imperative to mention here that in an earlier hearing, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia had defended his government’s decision to scrap the quota criteria. He alleged that private schools in Capital had become a “hub of corruption” as they run “admission rackets” under the garb of management quota. But now that the Delhi High Court has ruled against scrapping of management quota as the AAP government is not authorised to do so, the AAP government led by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal will have to make very calculated move and make sure that it does not overlook what the Delhi High Court has held just recently.
By Sanjeev Sirohi