The ongoing nursery admission process in the national capital would remain unaffected as the Delhi High Court today upheld the validity of two government notifications that gave powers to private unaided schools to formulate their own criteria.
"We uphold the notifications," a bench comprising Chief Justice D Murugesan and Justice V K Jain said while disposing of a PIL seeking quashing of the notifications issued by the Union Human Resources Development (HRD) Ministry and the Directorate of Education (DoE) respectively.
The court also made it clear that the ongoing "nursery admission process would remain unaffected".
The court allowed the plea of the Centre that the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act (also known as RTE Act) is applicable to a child between the age group of 6 to 14 and that the states were free to formulate policies to govern pre-school (nursery) admission.
The bench, however, asked the HRD Ministry to consider amending the Act to include the admission of pre-school classes under the legislation to extend the benefits to children below the age of six.
The court, in its judgement said that if the issue of pre-school admissions is not included under the RTE Act, then "it would render the law meaningless".
The PIL had been filed by NGO Social Jurist, which had challenged the two notifications issued by the HRD Ministry and the Delhi government.
On November 23, 2010, the ministry had issued guidelines under the RTE Act that had allowed the schools to frame their own admission criteria, the NGO had submitted.
Later, the DoE of the Delhi government had also issued similar guidelines, it had said.
The NGO in its PIL had alleged that the notifications negated the RTE Act as the private unaided schools were allowed to formulate their own criteria for nursery admission.
The PIL had also alleged that the notifications gave "a totally free hand to all unaided recognised private schools to formulate their own nursery admission criteria based on categorisation of children...".
However, the categorisations of children in admission have specifically been barred by the RTE Act, it submitted, adding that some schools still give preference in admission on grounds such as religion, alumni and sibling.
A federation of private schools, however, had opposed the PIL, saying private institutions cannot be forced to "toe" the diktat so far as the admission process is concerned.