Days after The Quint reported about three refugee siblings from the Sindh province of Pakistan being denied admission by a government school in Delhi’s Bhatti Mines area, the Delhi High Court has ordered that the teenagers be admitted with immediate effect.
On 17 October 2019, appearing before the bench presided over by Justice Rajiv Shakdher, the lawyer representing the Delhi government, Ramesh Singh, told the court that the Kejriwal government had agreed to relax the age criteria on the basis of which the three kids were debarred from attending the school earlier.
Ravi Kumar and his two sisters, Mona Kumari and Sanjana Bai, had taken admission in class 9 at the government school in July 2019.
Two months later, the school authorities informed them that they are ineligible for class 9 as they were found to be over-age on the basis of documents submitted at the time of admission.
Ravi’s father, Gulsher, who has migrated from Pakistan to India in May 2019, soon approached the Delhi High Court seeking relief.
Delhi Govt Relaxes Age Criteria Specified in 2016 Circular
The Delhi High Court order quoted the Senior Standing Counsel, Ramesh Singh as saying:
“...the govt of NCT of Delhi has taken a decision dehors its rights and contentions qua the impugned Circular dated 19. 9.2016 to grant admission to two other children i.e., Mona Kumari and Ravi Kumar in Government Co-ed Senior Secondary School, Bhatti Mines, Delhi.”
In September 2016, the Delhi government had passed a circular fixing the upper limit for admission to class 9 at 15 years. Ravi as well as his two sisters have crossed 16 hence the cluster committee that scrutinises documents had put their admission on hold.
Elaborating on the court’s order, lawyer Ashok Agarwal who was representing Gulsher told The Quint:
“Looking at the mood of the court, the government decided to grant relaxation on age. Had the government not decided, the court would have passed orders for admission.”Ashok Agarwal, Gulsher Rajput’s lawyer
In his petition, lawyer Ashok Agarwal had challenged the 2016 circular on the grounds that “it is violative of Articles 14, 15 and 21 of the Constitution as also the provisions of Delhi School Education Act, 1973 and the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education, 2009 (RTE Act).”
‘States Don’t Do Charity’
Sharing an exchange between the government lawyer and the judge, lawyer Ashok Agarwal also said that the issue of whether the three refugee kids had any right to education was also addressed by the court.
When the government lawyer, Ramesh Singh, requested the bench to mention it in the order that ‘Admission has been granted on humanitarian ground’, Agarwal had interjected saying, “We are not beggars.”
Justice Shakdher concurred with Ashok Agarwal and said, “States don’t do charity. This is a right of the students.”