India Education
Court gets tough with Delhi education department on free education
Apr 16, 2007 - 9:39:11 PM

New Delhi, April 16 - The Delhi High Court Monday came down heavily on the city government's education department for its failure to ensure that schools built on subsidised public land provide free education to 20 percent of its students.

Holding the Delhi's Directorate of Education responsible for failure in implementing the court's recent order, a division bench of Justice T.S. Thakur and Justice S.N. Agrawal said, 'We are not impressed by the submission. The director of education is the trustee and responsible for the execution of the clause -.'

Expressing anguish over non-compliance of the agreement, the bench said, 'Your officers are not taking action against the defaulting schools for extraneous reasons.'

The director should have examined the matter and withdrawn its recognition of the schools, which had been defaulting for years, the bench said.

It added that, alternatively, the department should have written to the Delhi Development Authority - to cancel land allotment to the defaulting schools.

Directing the government to ensure strict implementation of the land lease agreement with the schools, the court observed that criminal proceedings should have been initiated against the defaulting schools. The court adjourned the matter for further hearing Tuesday.

Counsel Avinash Awalwat appearing for the directorate, submitted that the court-appointed committee had recommended all the 361 public schools, built on subsidized public land, should reserve 20 percent of their total seats for free education to their poor students.

On January 31, some public schools had filed a petition challenging the Delhi government's notification for free education to 20 percents of students in schools built on subsidised land, contending that the notification could not be implemented in its present form.

The high court had directed the government to implement the provisions in the lease deeds with the schools by forcing them to admit at least 20 per cent students under freeship quota.

The Delhi lieutenant-governor has notified the state government's Oct 2006 order to private schools built on subsidised public land to reserve 20 percent of their seats for poor students and also waive their fees.

The High Court was apprised of the notification of the government's order in January 2007 by the government counsel, who submitted that students from the nursery level to Class XII would benefit from it.

On September 13, 2005, the High Court had issued a stern warning to 106 private unaided public schools built on the government land allotted at a concessional rate, to provide 20 percent seats to the poor students.

The DDA and state government had allotted land at a cocesssional rate to 361 schools.

The Action Committee of Unaided School, Independent School Federation and some schools, such as Delhi Public School, Caramel Convent, Holy Cross, Loretto Convent, Canterbury Model and St Xaviers are some of the petitioners.

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