EWS seats need to be filled in the next five years by Private schools: Delhi High Court

The order to ensure all EWS seats in private schools be filled was upheld by the High Court of Delhi through the learned bench led by HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE NAJMI WAZIRI in the case of JUSTICE FOR ALL AND ANR v. VENKATESHWAR GLOBAL SCHOOL AND ORS. (Letters Patent Appeal Case No. 5 of 2022 & Criminal Appeals 474-477 of 2022, & 481 of 2022)

FACTS OF THE CASE: Brief facts of the case are as follows; The Standing Counsel appearing for the Delhi Government apprised the Court that 132 private schools in the city were prima facie found to be violating the government’s direction regarding the admission of students in the EWS category. The government had taken the stance that all the EWS seats needed to be filled to the fullest at the entry-level but several private schools had been floundering with the directive for more than a decade. Under the EWS category, private schools on private land had to admit 25% of students in the EWS category, and the repayment of fees of admitted students would be equivalent to the expenses incurred for students in a government school. At the same time, private schools on government land that also had to admit 25% of students in the EWS category would only be reimbursed for 5% of the students, while the expenses of the remaining 20% had to be borne by the private schools themselves according to the pre-condition for the allocation of government land.

JUDGEMENT: After reviewing the submissions of both sides, the Court listed the following directives in its order. In cases when schools have failed to meet the stringent conditions for admitting EWS children, the State must step in and fulfil its responsibilities as a Welfare State. No government land recipient can ignore or circumvent its obligations under the allotment. In these circumstances, the State shall make every effort to fill the unfilled seats in private schools, on both private and government lands, in a phased manner over the next five years, i.e., 20% of the vacancies each year, in addition to the mandated annual 25% intake, shall be filled based on declared sanctioned strength at the entry level (Pre-school/Nursery/Pre-primary/KG and Class-I), regardless of the actual number of students admitted.

Judgement reviewed by – Abhinav Paul Mathew

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