The Delhi High Court recently held that in cases of admissions under the Economically Weaker Sections (EWS)/Disadvantaged Group (DG) categories, private schools may not insist on following the neighbourhood criteria strictly [Tarun Kumar & Anr v The Principal Happy Hours School & Ors].
Justice Mini Pushkarna said that the entire purpose of EWS reservation in schools will be defeated if seats under this category are allowed to go vacant merely because prospective students do not meet the neighbourhood criteria as per which they should be staying within the proximity of the school.
“The court cannot be oblivious of the noble purpose with which criteria has been developed for reservation of seats under the EWS/DG category. The social purpose of reservation of seats under the EWS/DG category cannot be allowed to be lost, if such objections with regard to the applicants not meeting the neighbourhood criteria, are entertained especially when admissions under the EWS/DG category are involved,” the Court said.
The Court made the observations while dealing with a plea filed by two applicants who were allotted seats at Delhi’s Principal Happy Hours schools under the draw of lots conducted by the Department of Education.
They were denied admission by the school stating that they live nearly 4 Km away from the school and therefore, do not fulfil the neighbourhood criteria.
After considering the case, Justice Pushkarna rejected the school’s objection and directed it to grant admission to the petitioners in Class I under the EWS category.
The Court clarified that the order is being passed keeping in view the fact that the children belonging to the weaker sections of the society are to be given equal opportunities for education in good schools, so that such students are able to come in the mainstream of the society.
“However, it is directed that the DOE shall make endeavour, as far as possible, to allot schools which are nearest to the residence of the students in question,” the Court added.
Advocates Devendra Kumar and NK Upadhyay appeared for the petitioners.
The Department of Education was represented through Delhi government’s Standing Counsel, Santosh Kumar Tripathi and advocate Utkarsh Singh.
Advocate BC Pandey and SP Kamrah appeared for the school.
Standing Counsel Manika Tripathy appeared for the DDA.