The Delhi High Court on Tuesday sought responses of the Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan and the Union of India on a plea challenging the legality and Constitutional validity of admission criteria 2022-23 of KVS.
The Single-Judge Bench of Justice Rekha Palli passed this order, while hearing a petition filed by Aarin through her next friend and natural father Pawan Kumar.
The Court asked Counsel for the respondents to take instructions and also said that on March 10, the next date of hearing, it would consider passing an interim order in the matter.
The petition said that the admission criteria of respondent KVS was violative of fundamental and statutory right to education of petitioner as guaranteed to her under Articles 14, 21 and 21-A of the Constitution of India read with the provisions of Delhi School Education Act, 1973 and Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009.
The petition further said that prior to academic year 2022-23, the minimum age of admission for class I in respondent KVS was throughout 5 years, as on March 31.
The plea stated that the admission criteria of the respondent KVS was arbitrary, discriminatory, unjust, unreasonable, violative of fundamental right to education of petitioner as guaranteed to her under Articles 14, 21 and 21-A of the Constitution of India read with the provisions of Delhi School Education Act, 1973 and Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009.
In this petition, the petitioner by the petition has raised the following vital questions of law for determination by the Court:-
a) Whether impugned action on the part of respondent KVS in making sudden change in admission criteria from minimum age of 5 years to 6 years for admission in class I is arbitrary, discriminatory, unjust, unreasonable, impermissible in law, prohibited in law, against public interest, opposed to public policy, violative of Articles 14, 21 and 21-A of the Constitution of India?
b) Whether the impugned admission criteria 2022-23 of respondent KVS to the extent it lays down minimum 6 years of age for admission of a child in class I is arbitrary, discriminatory, unjust, unreasonable, without authority of law, contrary to the recommendation of Ashok Ganguly committee report dated March 31, 2007 and contrary to provisions of Delhi School Education Act, 1973 and Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009?
The petitioner submitted that she was born on June 03, 2016 and as on March 31, 2022 she shall be 5 years 9 months and 28 days old. She was born in Delhi and is ordinary resident of Delhi. It is submitted that in academic year 2021-22 petitioner is studying in UKG in Kilkariyaan Just Play School.
The petitioner further submitted that as she would be 5+ age as on March 31, 2022, she was desirous of applying for admission in class I in respondent KVS in academic year 2022-23.
However, on February 24, 2022, all of sudden respondent KVS has made changes in minimum age criteria for admission in class I from 5 years to 6 years by uploading the impugned guidelines on the portal kvsanghatan.nic.in, just four days before admission process starts (from February 28, 2022).
The petitioner was shocked to find out by the impugned guidelines, that she has been made ineligible to apply for class I in respondent KVS in academic year 2022-23.
It is also submitted that said change in minimum age criteria has been made without giving sufficient time to parents to make alternate arrangements for their child.
No comments were invited from affected parties, nor any public discussion held. Therefore, it is submitted that impugned guidelines suffer from unreasonableness and hit by Article 14 of the Constitution.
It is submitted that guidelines say that “as per mandate of NEP 2020, entry age for Class 1 has been revised to 6+ years Academic Session 2022-23”. However, the National Education Policy 2020 (NEP 2020) has not mandated any such thing. In fact, the NEP 2020 has not made any changes to the age of school going children. It has not disturbed the status quo. The change to 6+ years is an invention of the respondent KVS without any mandate from the NEP 2020 and that too in the disadvantage of children like the petitioner.
The petitioner said that respondent KVS has relied upon NEP 2020 in the impugned guidelines. It is submitted that, there is no mention of 6+ year of age for admission in class 1 in NEP 2020. Secondly, the NEP 2020 has no statutory force. Thirdly, on reading para 1.6 of NEP 2020, the NEP 2020 itself states that entry age in class I is 5 years.
It is submitted that in private schools, the age of entry to class 1 remains 5+ years. Most of the reputed private schools have closed their admission by February last week. Thus, parents cannot now admit their wards in good private schools even if they want to.
It is also submitted that due to enforcement of these new guidelines by respondent KVS many children will be put at a disadvantage of one year as compared to children born in the same year who have now completed 5+ years and can get admission in private schools.
It is further submitted that children would lose 1 year for no fault of their as most of the Government competitive exams mandate maximum age criteria for writing exams.
The petitioner invites attention of the Court to an order dated March 07, 2007 of Division Bench of the Court dealing with the issue for minimum age of entry of a child in school.
It is submitted that the Division Bench by the said order constituted Ashok Ganguly committee to examine and recommend on the issue as to whether the pre-primary school should be of duration of one year only and what would be the proper cut-off age for admission in pre-primary class.
The petitioner submitted that Ashok Ganguly, having been constituted in terms of aforesaid order dated March 7, 2007 of Division Bench of the Court, the Ashok Ganguly Committee submitted its report dated March 31, 2007 in the Court which was accepted by the Court and Government was directed to frame rules.
It is submitted that Ganguly extensively examined the appropriate age of entry of a child in different classes in school including the factum of Constitutional amendment incorporating Articles 21-A in Constitution of India as fundamental right after Article 21 that mandates free and compulsory education to all children between 6-14 years of age in such manner as the state may, by law, determine.
The petitioner submitted that after seeing the impugned admission criteria 2022-23 of respondent KVS, the petitioner sent a legal notice dated February 27, 2022 to respondents, but no response has been received so far.