Christian family seeks EWS school seat, challenges Delhi govt. order

September 26, 2016 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

New Delhi, September 25, 2016: The issue of exemptions granted to minority education institutions is about to be raked up again, and this time a Christian boy and his father are behind it.

Residents of Suraj Park slums in Badli, Dinesh Kumar and his son Aashish, have challenged a Delhi government notification that exempts minority schools on public land from EWS reservation where it’s a condition in the allotment agreement.

Failing to secure a seat for Aashish through an online EWS nursery admission system introduced this year, Dinesh visited Christian minority schools close to home. “But there wasn’t a provision under which they could apply because the Delhi government misread a judgment and in April this year exempted minority institutions from their land deed obligation on EWS admissions,” said the duo’s lawyer Khagesh Jha.

Kumar is an unskilled factory worker earning Rs 6,000 a month. The government isn’t the only respondent; Delhi Development Authority — the land leasing agency — and several Christian schools have been made parties too.

In case of schools on land leased by government agencies, the agreements typically feature a clause requiring schools to reserve a certain percentage of seats for EWS candidates. In 2012, the extent of reservation was standardised and fixed at 20%.

In its April 28, 2016 order, Delhi government notified a 2014 high court order and said, “Minority schools running on the government land were exempted from the… obligation.” This was a “misreading” of the 2014 order, Jha said. The plea is that minority institutions be allowed to pick members of their own communities but belonging to EWS backgrounds for admission.

“All of this has been argued before the Supreme Court earlier. The composition of the class will be left to the minority institution,” said Romy Chako, a senior lawyer who’s represented several institutions in their battles against government regulation and reservation.

“Minority schools may choose to admit EWS students voluntarily — a large number of schools do — depending on the need of the child,” he added. Missionary schools also avoid government-imposed reservation because it is frequently misused, Chako said.

Jha’s issue mirrors this one. He said most minority institutions actually admit full-fee-paying non-minority students. In support of the argument, he produced the seat-distribution pattern for nursery admission made public by a Christian minority school for 2016-17. Not one of the total 240 seats is earmarked for EWS, he pointed out.

“You have to consider that the government is not allowing schools to raise fees and unlike schools that are reimbursed for EWS admissions, minority schools are not.

Where will they get the money from?” Chako said. But he also points out that the “appropriate thing to do” is to “question the minority status of the institution.”

– times of india

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