The Delhi High Court has directed the Delhi government to consider increasing the threshold income for availing reservation under the Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) quota in private schools from ₹1 lakh per annum to an amount commensurate with existing living standards. The court emphasized that the current threshold income did not accurately reflect the economic hardships faced by families, leading to unfair means being used to secure admission for children.
Justice Purushaindra Kumar Kaurav ordered an interim increase in the threshold income to ₹5 lakh until the Delhi government conducts a comprehensive assessment of prevailing economic conditions. The court noted that other states had already increased the threshold to ₹8 lakh.
The court criticized the apathy and lackadaisical attitude of state authorities in protecting the educational rights of economically weaker sections. It also ordered the immediate elimination of the self-declaration mechanism for income and the implementation of a proper framework for free seats in schools.
Concerns were raised about potential false self-declarations, leading to the court directing the Directorate of Education (DoE) to verify admissions and create a Standard Operating Procedure for income verification and regular monitoring of eligibility criteria.
The court heard a petition challenging the cancellation of a student’s admission due to his father forging Voter IDs and making false income declarations. The court acknowledged the child’s innocence and allowed his admission to continue under the General Category, imposing a cost of ₹10 lakh on the father.
The court emphasized the need to revisit the income criterion for EWS reservation, pointing out that even the children of unskilled laborers earning minimum wages were not entitled to EWS admissions. The court rejected a proposal to increase the threshold amount to ₹2.5 lakh per year, stating that it wouldn’t ameliorate the prevailing situation in Delhi schools.
Advocates representing the petitioner, the Directorate of Education, and the school were involved in the case, with the court urging the government to respond to the changing needs of society.