[mpisgmedia] free seats litigation: court update and dmp2021

About 350 schools were in court today ? Carmel, St
Xaviers, St Columba's, Holy Cross & Ors (all through
Romy Chako) and Independent Federation (through RP
Gupta), Coordination Committee (through OP Saxena) and
Action Committee of un-aided schools (through Rakesh
Khanna) ? challenging the GNCTD directive for 20% free
seats for BPL / Order for 25% free seats for EWS (in
Social Jurist v/s GNCTD & Ors) in purported compliance
of which it was issued.

The schools were persuasively arguing primarily that
the GNCTD directive has no basis in Delhi School
Education Act, 1973, infringes rights of schools,
creates financial burden, etc. A GNCTD official was
present, but GNCTD counsel (Avnish Ahlawat) was not.
DDA counsel (Jagmohan Sabharwal) said only that the
Action Committee had not filed the list of (280)
schools that comprised it. No reference was made to
Delhi Development Act, 1957 / Delhi Master Plan (2001)
scheme for equal access neighbourhood school system ?
from which (and not Delhi School Education Act) flows
the free seats condition.

The DMP2001 scheme ? consonant with Neighbourhood
School Plan in Kothari Commission? Common School
System and with decentralized planning as envisaged in
74th Constitutional Amendment ? is about local
enrolment of all children. The 25% free seats
condition is in line with mandatory DMP2001 provision
for integrating 25% EWS families in each community of
1 lakh. Together all schools (including government and
convent and other private aided / unaided schools) in
the community need to ensure, per class, about 2200
students including 200 non-local students and 500 EWS
students and minimize inter-school disparity. That is

What has been getting in the way of implementing the
DMP2001 neighbourhood school plan is mainly GNCTD
illegal recommendations for allotments and illegal
upgradation permissions to private schools. This has
been demonstrated in the MPISG PIL (for Vasant Kunj
area) in which Division Bench of Delhi High Court
ordered on 27.10.2004 directions for stopping
violations in 12 weeks. There has been no compliance
on that order.

Counsel for schools said today there are four types of
schools ? those not on DDA land, those with leases
requiring specified percentage of free seats, those
without such leases and minority schools. In terms of
neighbourhood school plan, there are two types of
schools in Delhi: those that have been violating it
inadvertently (with illegal permissions) and inclined
to rectify according to law and those inclined to take
advantage of free-seats obfuscation to continue their
wilful / inadvertent illegalities.

Drafts of DMP-2021 and Education Bill disregard the
statutory DMP2001 scheme and the PIL-led discourse on
common school system has yet to throw up a better
neighbourhood school plan. (Today the court has asked
the Action-Committee ? on whose suggestion CM had
announced 5% free seats in 2003 and whose counsel said
today that its ideas about afternoon schools are under
CM?s consideration ? to submit its scheme).

Of all the interferences in the planned development of
Delhi by Ms Dikshit's bhagidaari governance that
passes as GNCTD, this one stands apart ? it has killed
the consensus on the longest standing constitutional
commitment. About 350 schools arguing for themselves
and their students sounded like a requiem for the hope
for universalising education.

The matter is listed now for 14 April 2004.

MPISG engagements (including application for
intervention) are at:

MPISG Planner | 21/03/2005

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