SOCIAL JURIST A CIVIL RIGHTS GROUP Vs. UNION OF INDIA
HIGH COURT OF DELHI
SOCIAL JURIST A CIVIL RIGHTS GROUP
UNION OF INDIA
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MUKUNDAKAM SHARMA, C.J. -
(1.) At what age should an infant be sent to a pre-primary school, has generated some debate. This is not without reason as there is divergence of opinions. Schools want to admit infants at the age of three years and six months and put them to one and half years of pre-primary schooling. Government of NCT of Delhi has been osciIlating. For government schools have only one year of pre-primary education. However for other recognised schools the government feels two years of pre-primary education is mandatory and necessary.
(2.) Mr. K.T.S. Tulsi, Sr. Advocate has filed minutes of the meeting of the Delhi School Education Advisory Board held on 12th February, 2007. In the said meeting some members have expressed apprehension that children who are three years old as on 31st March may not be able to attend school as they lack required maturity and have not developed motor and learning skills.
(3.) Attention of Mr. K.T.S. Tulsi, Sr. Advocate was drawn to Section 16 of the Delhi School Education Act. He could not dispute that as per the said Section a child who has not attained the age of five years on the date of admission cannot be admitted to class-I. As per Section 16, a child should have completed five years of age on the date of taking admission to class-I. Section 16 does not state that a child after admission in the academic year may attain age of five years. By Order dated 8th December, 2006, this Court had permitted children to submit their forms for admission to nursery, K.G. and Class 1 provided they had completed three, four or five years of age respectively as on 1st April, 2007. It was clarified that this is a stop-gap arrangement to tide over immediate difficulties and will be subject to final outcome of the writ petition. We had to pass such order as there was apparently a lot of confusion as to the cut off date for admission of children into schools as different schools were adopting diverse criteria for admissions into the pre-primary school and no action was taken by the State Government to take corrective measures. In our Order dated 17th January, 2007 we clarified the reason for making Order dated 8th December, 2006 as under :-
"..... When we passed the said order, we took notice of the provisions of Section 16 of the Delhi School Education Act, which clearly provides that a child who has not attained the age of five years, would not be admitted to Class-I or any equivalent class or any class higher than class-I in a recognised school. Bare perusal of the provision would make it clear that a child who has attained the age of five years can be admitted to Class-I or equivalent class. It, therefore, follows that a child who has not attained age of four years on the date of admission cannot be admitted to KG class and for admission to a Nursery Class, a child must have attained on the date of admission the age of three years. This statutory requirement was only given effect to by this Court by passing the last order. The stand being taken that students who have not completed three years of age are also being admitted to Nursery class, is totally incorrect as no such order could be passed over looking the provisions of Section 16(1) of the said Act. No such stand can be taken without challenging the provisions of Section 16(1) of the Delhi School Education Act. Whether or not a child could begin his education at the age of three in the Nursery class is a policy matter and is an argument against the statutory provision.";
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