Delhi’s private school associations have added yet another court win to their list with the High Court on Thursday deciding to stay the Delhi government order scrapping management quota. School managements are, naturally, pleased with the outcome in the present case but also expect more trouble ahead.
“This government will not accept this,” says a principal. That prescient observation is confirmed within minutes as education minister Manish Sisodia tweets that while they “respect the decision of the court”, the government will appeal. Sisodia had himself appeared in court several times to defend the government’s decision to scrap the 20% management quota and 62 admission criteria on the basis of which schools were admitting. The admission process had already begun when this announcement was made on January 7, 2016.
“Now the process of collaboration can begin. Hopefully, the matter can be put to rest. If implemented in the right spirit, I foresee no problem,” says Ashok Pandey, chairperson, National Progressive Schools Conference and principal, Ahlcon International School, Mayur Vihar. He adds that this decision also “settles the issue” of what criteria are acceptable for nursery admissions. “We are very happy about that.” Of the 62 rejected by Delhi Government, the court has cleared 11. The rest stand scrapped.
“We have to earn the trust of the public and everyone must understand that we don’t want any tussle with the government,” says S K Bhattacharya, president, Action Committee for Unaided Recognized Private Schools. “We have to have better understanding with the government. Last time too, the government had appealed but not stay was granted. But, suppose, there is one this time. What will be the result of this appeal? It’s the parents who will suffer, the whole system will.”
Lawyers, and even several school principals, point out that this round’s been won mainly on a technicality. “It was practically the only point — the government issued an order where it didn’t have jurisdiction,” says lawyer-activist Khagesh Jha. “It is not a matter of what order but who issued it,” says another principal. The “administrator” mentioned in the Delhi School Education Act and Rules is the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi.
“We were expecting this,” says R C Jain, president, Delhi State Public Schools Management Association. “Last time it was the LG’s order. He had the authority to issue the such an order but still it was quashed.”