HC relief for St Columba’s: School not obliged to reserve seats for EWS students

In a relief to unaided minority schools in the capital, the Delhi High Court on Wednesday said St Columba's school would not be obligated to admit EWS category students.

The order was passed after the court noted that the lease deed of the allotment to St Columba's school — an unaided minority school did not contain a provision for granting freeships to EWS students.

The order came after the school filed a plea challenging two orders of the Delhi government. According to these orders, it is mandatory for all minority schools which had received land from the government to reserve 20 per cent of their seats for students of EWS category at the entry-level.

The notification regarding the government order had been issued by Lt-Governor Najeeb Jung on December 30.

In its plea, the school had argued that the notification was "ultra vires both RTE Act, 2009, as well as Delhi School Education Act", and violated the fundamental right of the school as a minority institution "to have its own procedure and method of admission and selection of students as envisaged under Article 30 of the Constitution".

During arguments on Wednesday, Delhi government counsel Zubeda Begum argued that the school was "obligated" to admit students of the EWS category as it had been given land at concessional rate because of sponsorship of the Directorate of Education.

"It is their duty to give back to the public if they have received land at concessional rates," the lawyer said.

The counsel for the school, however, argued that the lease deed of the land given at the time of allotment "does not carry any condition of grant admission to anyone on freeship basis".

"The obligation to provide free education applies only to schools which have given an undertaking to provide free education in the terms and conditions stipulated in the lease deed," St Columba's advocate Romy Chacko said.

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