Sanskriti School, New Delhi
This is a collection of articles archived for the excellence of their content.
Can school for bureaucrats’ children be public-funded?
The Times of India, Oct 30 2015
Sanskriti School case: Nine years on, HC reserves order
Can the state divert free land and public money to an individual or a society to establish a school reserved for children of elite government servants? The fate of Delhi's reputed Sanskriti School will now be tested on this legal premise. The Delhi high court reserved its verdict on a case it started suo motu and converted into a PIL in 2006.
Surprisingly ,even though the issue was taken up suo motu, it took over nine years for the HC to reach the stage of wrapping up proceedings to pave the way for a verdict on the school, set up by wives of top bureaucrats.
A bench of Justices Pradeep Nandrajog and Mukta Gupta conducted a marathon hearing of two hours to conclude the matter on the very first day of its listing before them. The bench indicated the broad contours its impending verdict will deal with -legality of state funding for land and building construction of Sanskriti School and concession up to 40% in fee charged from children of group A officers. HC is also likely to decide if a quota of 60% seats for group A officers is valid or not.
The thrust of the court's inquiry has been to examine why the government is routing large public resources to a school not accessible to children belonging to the weaker sections of the society. Rejecting the arguments that the grant of Rs 10 crore is towards capital expenses, the court had on an earlier occasion asserted that government resources should be made available firstly to the weaker sections of society .
In the last effective hearing held two years ago, then Chief Justice NV Ramana had questioned why departments and ministries were vying with each other to fund the school. HC has already examined the school's management and pattern of admission and the verdict is expected to have a bearing on both.
On its part, the school has fielded a battery of lawyers including Union minister Arun Jaitley who had challenged the court's powers to examine a budgetary provision by Parliament. The institute has maintained that only 60% of seats are for the children of group A officers, while 10% for general public, 5% for staff and 25% for EWS category .
Nov 2015: HC ends quota for bureaucrats' children
The Times of India, Nov 07 2015
HC ends quota for bureaucrats' kids in Sanskriti
It's like racial segregation in US of 1960s
The Delhi high court on Friday ended the nearly two-decade-old system of reservations for children of bureaucrats in the FULL COVERAGE: P 4 city's Sanskriti School, likening it to racial segregation of students in 1960s' US. A bench of Justices Pradeep Nandrajog and Mukta Gupta quashed the 60% quota for wards of Group-A central service officers and said it violated constitutional provisions of equality and Right to Education .
“Sanskriti has been promoted as a school primarily for children of Group-A offi cers... This is analogous to the scenarios in Brown and Keyes cases (involving segregation of white and black students in the US),“ the court observed. It directed the Centre to immediately implement the verdict or convert the school into a Kendriya Vidyalaya if it wanted to maintain it as a preserve for kids of government employees. The court noted that in India, “the circle of ci tizens has to be broadened and the children of whatever parentage be...educated to be one harmonious people“.
By reserving 60% of the seats, the school had created an “arbitrary separation“ between the children of Group-A officers and other students, the court said, stressing that “the State cannot provide funds to any private individual to establish a school for an elite segment of society .“
The bench rejected the justification of the government that the school aims to provide stable schooling to children of All India Service officers whose assignments “fluctuate“ between different geographic locations in India. It pointed out that this predicament was being faced by persons engaged in other branches of the Indian services. If children of group-A officers could not be accommodated in the Kendriya Vidyalayas due to shortage of seats, “another KV could have been established on the land given free of cost to the civil services society.“
Drawing on the two affidavits filed by the Centre during the nine-year-long hearings initiated suo motu by it, HC observed that the real reason for setting up the school was that the top services wanted “good schools“ and “elite schools“ for their wards.
The court said a 60% quota for bureaucrats “creates a limited notion of diversity and merely separates group-A Union government officers from an otherwise similar category of students“.
“Thus, a classification that includes merely children of group-A Union government officers bears no merit. In sum, the respondents' separate treatment of aforesaid classification of children violates both the spirit of equal protection under Article 14 of the Constitution and the spirit of equality of education under Article 21A,“ the bench said It also noted that the school charges 40% less fee from children of group-A officers of the Union government as compared to other children.The bench said the government had “failed to show“ that no alternative means were available by which it could have created “a balance between children of the aforesaid officers, children of persons in other branches of the Indian services, and children of the general category“.
Under the current system, the school reserves 60% of the seats for children of Group-A officers, 25% for economically weaker sections, 10% for general students and 5% for staff children.
The court resented the fact that the “privileged, who can afford to buy education, have access to high-quality schools while the poor and marginalised are left to wallow in ill-equipped schools set up by municipalities, gram panchayats and the government“.
January 2016: Not for top officers alone: SC
1. The Times of India, January 22 2016
2. The Times of India, January 22, 2016, AmitAnand Choudhary
Sanskriti not for top babus alone, says SC The prestigious Sanskriti School is set to soon lose its premium tag with the Supreme Court on Thursday directing it to admit wards of all central government employees with transferable jobs within the existing 60% quota reserved exclusively for children of Class I bureaucrats, reports Amit Anand Choudhary. The court said that the government cannot be allowed to create an “elite class“ in an educational institution. In an interim order, it, however, stayed a Delhi high court judgment for altogether quashing the 60% quota. The apex court said it would later take a call on whether the reservation policy should be scrapped and the school converted into a Kendriya Vidyalaya, as directed by the HC.
The school admits 25% of its students from economically weaker sections, while 5% seats are reserved for children of school staff.Only 10% seats are open to the general public.
The prestigious Sanskriti School in the capital is set to lose its `elite' tag as the Supreme Court on Thursday directed it not to give reservation to wards of only top bureaucrats and ordered the school to throw open its doors to children of all classes of government employees. The court said the government cannot be allowed to provide reservation to an elite class in an educational institution and directed that children of all central government officials whose jobs are transferable be allowed to get the benefit of 60% quota, which was earlier reserved exclusively for wards of Class I officers.
A bench of Justices A R Da ve, C Nagappan and Adarsh Kumar Goel said the government and the school were creating an “elite class“ by providing reservation to wards of only top bureaucrats. In an in terim order, the court, however, stayed the Delhi high court judgment for quashing the 60% quota on the condition that the school would allow children of all central government employees to compete for admission under this quota in the current session.
The children of general public will find it difficult to get admission in the school in the coming academic year as only 10% seats would be available to them as the SC allowed the school to continue with quota system for 2016-17 session.As the admission process has commenced, the bench said the school be allowed to admit students as per its quota system and it would take a final call at later stage on whether the reservation policy should be scrapped and the school converted to Kendriya Vidyalaya, as directed by the HC.
The school, which became functional in 1998, was set up by the Civil Services Society formed by wives of civil ser vants belonging to the various branches of the Centre. The Centre had allotted 7.67 acre land to the school. Currently , 60% seats are reserved for wards of bureaucrats, 25% students are taken from economically weaker sections and 5% reserved for children of school staff. Only 10% of seats are open to the general public.
While quashing the 60% quota for children of Class I government employees in the school, the HC had in Novem ber last year referred to “Ganga-Jamuni tehzeeb“ to underscore the need to have an inclusive primary education system where students from diverse background could learn together.
Challenging the order, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi submitted that the school was run by a private society and the court should refrain from interfering in its functioning as it was not a government body . He contended that the school was set up to cater to the educational needs of wards of bureaucrats who came to Delhi on deputation and there had been no allegations of bad practices in running the School, which does not get any funds from the government.
Rohatgi said that govern ment was agreeable to the proposal to allow wards of Class C and Class D employees to get benefits of reservation. He, however, said quota was only for those whose jobs were transferable in nature and employee of Class C and Class D did not come within the bracket.
Delhi government also opposed the quota system and informed the court that it had issued notification for scrapping management quota in schools.Although agreeing with the AAP government stand that 60% quota in Sanskriti school was virtually management quota, the bench refused to go into the issue as the matter was pending in the Delhi high court.
The Times of India, Nov 07 2015
School's funding under debate
The exclusiveness of Sanskriti School has frequently drawn attention to its operations and the institution's finances have often been a subject of debate, even figuring in discussions in the Lok Sabha, where the topic was raised in 2010, 2012, 2014 and in April this year. Not surprising, because the school has irked a lot of important people, among them politicians and education activists, by turning down the admission of their children. Even former Rajya Sabha member and political heavyweight Amar Singh had faced the ignominy of this twin daughters being denied admission. Because the school reserves 60% seats for kids of Class I civil servants--an official close to the school's management objects to the word “reservation“ used in this context--there is a lot of power play involved in the admission procedure. Unsuccessful applicants often retaliate by questioning the propriety of the school's funding and its operations.
According to the official reply to BJP's Jagdambika Pal Singh and YSR-Congress' Mekapati Rajmohan Reddy in the Lok Sabha in April, Sanskriti received Rs 25.20 crore as “grants-in-aid“ from government sources between 1995 and 2009.It received grants of Rs 5 crore from the defence ministry in 1995-96; the same amount from the HRD ministry in 1995-1997; Rs 1 crore from RBI in 1999-2000; Rs 20 lakh from the railway ministry in 1999-2001; Rs 14.9 lakh from ONGC; Rs 5 lakh from NTPC and amounts between Rs 1lakh and Rs 25 lakhs from state governments.
Riled by these unwarranted sources of financing, S K Bhattacharya of the Action Committee for Unaided Recognized Private Schools, Delhi, wondered whether funding had a bearing on the school's status. “Do all grants-in-aid make the school an aided school or not?“ he asked. “If it is an aided school, then all the rules of the Right to Education Act should apply to it.“
Sanskriti's principal could not be reached for a response, and Roopa Sinha, chairperson of the Civil Services Society which runs the school, told TOI she “can't comment without reading the order“. However, the school does have supporters who argue it should be allowed to function as it runs on the same principles as scho ols under the armed forces. Bhattarcharya countered this by pointing out, “Such schools generate funds from fees and may receive some aid from the welfare funds of their respective branch of the armed forces. They don't receive grant from regular government departments.“
Talking about armed forces academies, a source said the Air Force Schools were established primarily for children of Indian Air Force personnel and fall within unaided private institution category .However, unlike Sanskriti, these schools also admitted children of army and navy personnel and civilians. “ Apart from the tuition fee that's realized from students, the schools are funded by the Indian Air Force,“ the source said. The sister schools, Air Force Bal Bharati and Air Force Golden Jubilee Institute, are also run by the same society under the IAF . Similarly, the army , under the Indian Army Welfare Education Society , runs 130 schools that primarily cater to the education needs of Indian armed forces families.
A person acquainted with Sanskriti's functioning wryly observed, “The court won't take suo motu cognizance of the pollution in the capital or of rape cases, but it pulls up Sanskriti.“ He, however, added that “to be honest, the school's case does look weak“. He felt that the school should have generated funds independently , and said that it was the IAS that had acquired money and government land for the school, only to shoot itself in the foot.