25 Jun 2022 6:10 AM GMT
A single bench of High Court of J&K&L on Friday ordered maintaining of status quo on private schools facing de-recognition because of an amendment made in the education rules by the government on April 15 this year. The bench passed this order while hearing the petitions filed by such private schools challenging these amendments. After hearing Sr Advocate Zaffar Shah on behalf...
A single bench of High Court of J&K&L on Friday ordered maintaining of status quo on private schools facing de-recognition because of an amendment made in the education rules by the government on April 15 this year.
The bench passed this order while hearing the petitions filed by such private schools challenging these amendments. After hearing Sr Advocate Zaffar Shah on behalf of J&K Private Schools Association Justice Moksha Khajuria Kazmi ordered,
"The petitioners have prima facie made out a case for ad-interim relief at this stage. In the meantime, subject to objections to be filed by the respondents and till the next date of hearing, status quo, as on date, shall be maintained."
According to SO-177 passed by the J&K School Education Department on April 15 this year, certain amendments were carried in J&K School Education Rules, among others providing conditions for registration and recognition of the schools.
Contesting these government amendments the petitioners pleaded that the Sub Rule (2)(A) and Sub Rule (2)(B) in these amendments asked the schools to obtain 'No Objection Certificate' regarding the land use and lease period by the Revenue Department. However, there was confusion among the Revenue officers between title to the land and 'use of the land' without possessing the title.
Sr Advocate Shah further contended before the court "the amendment and the consequent notification and circulars issued on the subject have the effect of taking over the management of the school which has been established on Kacharai land." He further argued about the catena of decisions of the Supreme Court, wherein it has been clearly underscored that no situation could be created wherein schools would have to be closed.
Sr Advocate Shah on behalf of the the school management also put forth that the schools, which exist on Kahcharie land (land for grazing and community purposes), have been established with the authority and permission of the local inhabitants. "In some cases, within the knowledge of the Panchayat, a small portion of the grazing land has been used for setting up of the schools for the benefit of the school going children and for the benefit of the local community," he argued.
The petitioners further contended that these schools have been established many years back on the State land and the government accepted the establishment of such schools by granting them 'registration' and 'recognition' and by sanctioning electricity and water connections.
"At no stage, the government objected to the setting up of these schools which have been in operation for the last several years. All the (school) members are in settled possession. They are not trespassers," they argued.
Emphasising the gravity of the issue the petitioners further argued that at least 155 private schools, with enrollment of more than one lakh students will be grappling to keep their registrations intact while these rules remain in force and many severely hit the educational apparatus in the UT.
The Private Schools Association sought direction from the government to accord registration and recognition to the schools as was being done before the issuance of the amendments. The petitioners further prayed for court's intervention for declaring the SO-117 as "ultra vires" to the constitution as well as quashing notification and circular issued on April 16 and 22 over the recognition and taking over management of the schools.
While ordering Status Quo and issuing a notice to the government returnable within three weeks, the court listed the plea for further consideration on July 18 2022.
Case Title : J&K Private Schools Association and Ors. V J&K Private Schools Association and Ors.
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