New Delhi: The Delhi High Court today pulled up the city government for not taking steps to ensure that three per cent seats be kept vacant in nursery classes for kids with disabilities.
Taking serious note of non-implementation of its earlier orders, a bench of justices S Ravindra Bhat and R V Easwar asked the Delhi government, through its counsel Zubeda Begum, to implement them "forthwith".
The bench also directed the city government to file an affidavit indicating the steps taken by it to implement the orders of the court while giving a warning to it not to take the issue "lightly".
The court said if no circular, communicating its decision to the schools, is issued by the next date of hearing, the Principal Secretary concerned be present before it and posted the matter to March 28.
"Don`t take it lightly. By not doing so (issuing the circular), you have rendered our decision infructuous. How will you ensure that three per cent quota is set aside once the stay on admissions is lifted? How will the schools know about our order? Who will be responsible?
"What are you waiting for? What are you scared of?" the bench asked when Zubeda Begum submitted that no harm has been done by non-issuance of the circular as admissions to nursery class have been stayed by the court. The bench had on February 26 and March 12 ordered three per cent seats be kept vacant for disabled kids which would be filled subject to the outcome of the petition.
The court was today informed about non-issuance of the circular to communicate its decision to the schools by the petitioner Pramod Arora`s counsel Anshumaan Sahni.
Arora has challenged the Lt Governor`s nursery admission guidelines to the extent it clubs disabled children with kids from economically weaker groups (EWS).
Meanwhile, the Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities submitted before the bench the draft minutes of a meeting convened by him in furtherance of the court`s order.
In the meeting the participants, including officials of the Ministry of Health and Rural Development, Ministry of Social Justice and Delhi government, came up with a few suggestions which included earmarking three per cent seats for disabled kids first and then allocating the remaining in the open category and for economically weaker sections (EWS).
It was also suggested in the meeting that disability be treated as a criteria for assigning points to "enhance the chances" of differently-abled children to get admitted.
As the bench was apprised by Sahni about awarding extra points on basis of disability, the court said, "This is something that can be done straightaway."
The court, however, cautioned that the point system "will only enhance the chances of admission and will not guarantee it. We have to guarantee it."
The bench suggested that points under the neighbourhood category be reduced to 50 from the current 70, and the 20 points so derived may be awarded depending upon the extent or level of disability.
As per the minutes of the meeting, it was observed that reservation for disabled kids "has to be treated on a different footing as it cuts across the vertical categories - SC, ST, OBC, General, girl child".
It was also stated that three per cent is the minimum reservation that must be provided and it can always be more.