Reality Check India

An ignominious end to Delhi nursery admissions

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on May 9, 2014


Pre-school toddlers involved in tough court battles in Delhi

Pre-school toddlers & court battles

The vexed issue of Delhi toddlers has apparently been resolved. The Supreme Court has allowed the petitions of 24 Inter State Transferees  thereby ending the quarrel in front of it. A few sample media reports sharing the relief of the majority lottery winners.

With the Supreme Court clearing the decks for nursery admissions in the Capital  (India Today)

Schools and parents heaved a sigh of relief on Wednesday (Times)

 In a big relief to hassled parents, the Supreme Court today cleared the decks (PTI)

You wont read this anywhere, but let me explain why you, even if you are not impacted by Delhi admissions, should sit up like you’ve been jolted by a 440V line. The case may be about pre-school toddlers but it exposes like few others the grand weaknesses of our institutions.

 Quick recap

For those new to the issue, this is what happened. The Delhi Govt announced that starting from 2014, all private non-minority schools were to have no autonomy with regards to admissions. They had to follow a system of quotas and lotteries to select their intake. Now, this isnt just a fair sweepstakes like you would expect from a slot machine, rather this is like giving everyone a pair of loaded dice and letting it roll. The govt would assign weights to your kids “worth” depending on whether the child is 1st born, had either parent go to the same school, was a girl child. One of the weights was Inter State Transfer (IST) for kids coming in to Delhi from other states. As crudely intrusive and cringe worthy as this scheme is, the rules were nevertheless notified and lotteries held. After the results came out – they found a large number of IST kids who had won seats due to them being weighted above the general (zero weight, euphemistically called  70-pointers) category.  Citing fraud, the Delhi Govt abolished this category and that was upheld by the Delhi High Court. The whole process was stayed pending a decision on what to do with the IST kids who secured seats.  Of the 2925 students who won under the category,  24 IST kids appealed to the Supreme Court. This is the background story. Now lets get to what happened yesterday.

The order

The order from the Supreme Court came down yesterday. The Honorable Justices ruled in favour of the 24 children and granted them relief. But –

P21 .. However, it is made clear that this order would only enure to the benefit of those who had approached the Court. It would certainly not extend the benefit to those who had not approached the Court or might have gone in slumber

Page 12 CIVIL APPEAL NO.5379-5380/2014

 The Honorable  judges had given a hint of this over the last weekend. There were several reports that they were going to cap the relief to this group. Here was some coverage of their thought process.

“You can’t be a fence sitter and wait what medicine was being prescribed and seek to avail it.” Justice Dattu said “relief will be confined to only those who have approached the court till yesterday (Thursday)”.

Source : NIE


From the procedural side, the supporters argue that since this was a private writ and not a Public Interest Litigation write, the SC was correct in restricting the order to those who approached it. That is well and good, but the same process must be made available to all.

When a single person or a group approaches the court with a private writ, it would make enormous sense for the court to immediately discover the following. Does this involve a question that is going to affect the public at large and not just the bunch in front of us ?    In this case, that was done, the honorable justices even scolded the Delhi Govt for arbitrarily changing rules of the game after the game was played.

issued in the midstream. In our considered opinion, it was not permissible for the Administration to alter the basis of admission after the admission process had  started and further having participated in the selection process the criteria for selection could not have been questioned by unsuccessful participants

Page 11

Having identified that the source of the injury was arbitrary rule changing and recognizing that there are a thousand others with the exact same injury, it is stupefying that  the court would only provide relief to this group. And ban others.

A question of equity

The funny thing is there are a million NGOs in India who talk non stop about equity. The worst form of equity is access to justice.  One cannot assume that those who did not approach the Supreme Court were “idle, fence sitting, twiddling their thumbs, lazy, or otherwise  deadbeat parents”.  A more likely explanation is that they just did not have the awareness, the lawyer circuit connections, or the MONEY.  You have to remember that all these people are new to Delhi who are just learning how to get home from work.

Needless to say, the hundreds who are now stranded are aggrieved and are mulling legal options now. A truly tragic situation.

  • On review,  If the Supreme Court or the lower court grants relief to all, even those without the means to hire expensive lawyers, then we are back to square one.
  • If not, a grave injustice of selective relief will take hold as a judicial precedent. Choose your poison?  What if a future arbitrary law impacted a million people and a small subset group got a private relief, can we pull the ladder ?

Real minority rights

It is distressing to see the impatient behaviour of the parents who won the lotteries and the sense of entitlement of those with equally dubious “alumni” and “2nd child” points.  The hapless IST children who cant claim either of these two gold/silver/bronze govt weights, are seen as villians who are out to delay their own kids school year. This trampling of minority rights happens only because we have been trained to only identify “minority” with Christians and Muslims and not as other kinds of groups.

So whats the real problem ? I have overran the limit for this blog, but the Delhi Nursery situation alarms me to no end. What they are talking about is replacing natural endowments including differential wealth, education, and autonomy with govt assigned rigid weights.  Why must all 2nd children be admitted before the first only child is even considered ?  Why must this be such rule that if a school violates it they go to jail ?  Why alumni points if you are talking socialism ?

The unelected Delhi Administration is driving the school system into a position of immorality. The net result will be philanthropists vacating this space and a drying up of whats left.

Filed under: Lost causes.



Previously at



3 Responses

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  1. OM said, on May 9, 2014 at 6:15 pm

    Sir, how easy is it for a new government (Central) to repeal such a law and legislate out this lottery system? Would that, if it were to be done, render this particular judgement null and void? I appreciate that this is symptomatic of the lunacy that has possessed our institutions, but in this specific case, is it just a matter of the incoming government changing the relevant legislation or does it run deeper (i.e. constitutional amendment / state subject, etc)? What needs to be done to make this go away?

    • rc2 said, on May 9, 2014 at 6:24 pm

      The new Delhi state govt (if formed) has the power to cancel it all. There is no need for constitution amendment – AFAIK Edu is not with LG like Police but with CM. Political analyst Prasanna has predicted that AAP+CON will be back after LS elections. The problem is they support this stuff.

  2. […] Sec 13 of the #RTE is easily the most dangerous part and is directly responsible for the 7 month lottery ordeal in the national capital last year. Its about to start this week for the next year. Once again […]

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