SC set aside Delhi HC order on filling up EWS admissions
The Supreme Court has set aside a Delhi high court order, which on May 26 directed private schools to fill up reserved seats pending over the past decade under the Economically Weaker Section (EWS) category in the next five years.
“We are unable to appreciate how clause 4 of the impugned order dated May 26, 2022, can be worked out even if the schools are at default for the earlier period of years as the same cannot be compensated in this manner by an interim order,” said a bench of justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and AS Oka on September 1.
The high court issued the order in response to NGO Justice for All’s plea seeking directions for private schools to enforce the provisions of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act. It asked the state to ensure that 25% of seats under the EWS category are filled up on the basis of declared sanctioned strength at the entry-level irrespective of the actual number of students admitted under the general category.
The interim order was challenged in the top court, saying there was no concept of “declared strength” under the RTE Act. Private schools argued it was a creation of the Delhi government’s Directorate of Education to force the private unaided schools to grant EWS admissions beyond the mandate of 25% prescribed under the 2009 law. They said the order referred to a “backlog of unfilled seats”, which does not exist.
The top court accepted the argument and asked the high court to first decide the main issue as to whether the 25% of seats under the EWS category are being filled up on the basis of the declared sanctioned strength or actual admissions. “We do believe that this cannot form the subject matter of an interim order…We are thus of the view that the final call will have to be taken in the main matter and it cannot be a subject matter of the nature of interim relief as granted.”
The Delhi government told the high court that at least 132 private schools have failed to provide admissions under the EWS category even as notices were issued to them. The high court order was meant for schools set up on private as well as government land.
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