Nursery admissions: Court sets aside revised dates
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The Bench, comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Augustine George Masih, however, showed conviction in the direction of Justice Mahesh Grover, wherein he had directed the UT Administration to come up with an uniform policy with regard to admission in private schools. The abrupt change of dates to April 1, 2006 to March 31, 2007 had left out of consideration the children born between April 1, 2007 and September 30, 2007, the order reads.
Permitting private schools "to complete the admission process on basis of dates as originally announced," the Bench ruled: "We are in full agreement with the Single Judge that the solution to the impasse lies in evolving a uniform admission policy with regard to age in all schools and strict implementation thereof."
The directions were passed in the wake of appeals filed by private schools against the Single Bench order of February 15.
Appearing on behalf of schools — Carmel Convent, Sacred Heart and St Annes — senior advocate M L Sarin had challenged the order, stating that the extension of date for admissions made by the Single Judge adversely affects private schools. St John's had also filed an appeal against the order.
In a significant observation, the court ruled: "The schools are unaided minority institutions that undoubtedly have the freedom and autonomy to decide all matters pertaining to the governance and administration including admissions. The law which has crystallized till date on such autonomy, will not permit governmental control so long as the internal management of the schools is conducted in a fair, transparent and reasonable manner."
The court further ruled: "Though the policy followed in the government schools in Chandigarh requires a child to be three plus on the first day of April of the academic year to be eligible for admission in Nursery/LKG class and five years and above to be eligible for admission in Class-I, the policy is not being very rigorously followed in private schools, particularly, unaided minority institutions."
Dispensing with the verdict, the court held: "If the alteration of dates has taken place to coincide with the start of a new academic year and the understanding of the schools with regard to the provisions of the Right to Education (RTE) Act, dehors the correctness thereof, the decision that had eventually emerged, by no means, can be said to be unfair or unreasonable. If that is so, the first step in the scrutiny of the decision making process must end in favour of the schools".
The schools had changed the date keeping in view the RTE Act. It was the contention of parents that their wards born between April 1, 2007 and September 30, 2007 have been made ineligible for admission in the ensuing academic session.
The Bench said: "There would, indeed, be a handful of students who would be close to seven years at the time of admission into Class-I... A margin of one year from the minimum age for admission to any particular class has to be considered reasonable. All children having a difference of one year of age are to be at par for admission into a particular class."
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