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HC directs private school to admit disabled boy

Coming to the aid of a disabled minor boy, Delhi high court on Friday directed a private school to admit him in Class I under the economically weaker section (EWS) category saying he was legally entitled to a seat in the institution.

Justice Manmohan’s direction came on a plea by Siddharth International Public School against orders of a Motor Accident Claims Tribunal (MACT) which had directed it to admit the physically disabled boy in class 1 under EWS or disadvantaged group (DG) category, for which 25 per cent seats are to be kept reserved, by giving him age relaxation.

The school had contended that MACT lacked jurisdiction to pass such an order which was issued on a plea by the child’s mother.

Agreeing with the school on this point, the court set aside the tribunal’s direction, but adopted the order and directed the institute to admit the boy.

The court rejected the school’s contention that there were no vacant seats under EWS category by taking note of the submission by Directorate of Education (DoE) that 25 per cent of 34 seats was 8.5 and only seven students had been admitted under EWS.

The school had contended it had 34 students in class 1 of which seven were under EWS and thus, there was no vacant seat in that category.

It had also argued that the child was born in 2006 as per his birth certificate and thus, was overage for Class 1. The boy’s mother had contended that he was born in 2010.

On the issue of the child’s age, the court said it was not required to pass any order on that and added that in its view, the discrepancy in date of birth of the child was “due to poverty, ignorance and backwardness of his relatives”. It also said that if the school’s argument that the boy was too old for class 1, was accepted “then those children who had either not been admitted to a school initially or had left studies midstream would never be able to join/rejoin any school and make use of their fundamental right to free and compulsory education”.

In its order, the high court termed as “untenable in law” the school’s argument that it cannot be directed by any court to either deploy special educators or to hold classes for physically challenged children on ground floor or to provide barrier free environment. It said under the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, it was specifically mandated that “every child with a disability has to have access to free education in an appropriate environment”.
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