New Delhi, October, 2023 – The Supreme Court of India has dismissed an appeal titled SOCIAL JURIST Vs. GOVERNMENT OF NCT OF DELHI, SLP© No. 022296 – / 2023 challenging the decision of the Delhi High Court in a case related to the Delhi School Education (Amendment) Bill, 2015. This bill prescribes the prohibition of screening procedures for the admission of children at the pre-primary level (nursery/pre-primary) in schools.
The Supreme Court bench, composed of Justices Sanjay KishanKaul and Sudhanshu Dhulia, stated that the High Court’s view, which refused to pass a writ to expedite the finalization of the bill, was justified. They emphasized that there cannot be a mandamus to introduce a law and that the Supreme Court cannot provide a solution for everything.
The petitioner in this case was Social Jurist, a Civil Rights Group consisting of lawyers and social activists. They argued that the bill, which aims to ban screening procedures in nursery admissions, has been pending between the Central Government and Delhi Government for seven years without justification and against the public interest. The delay has resulted in arbitrary admission procedures in different schools at the pre-primary level, impacting the interests of children.
The petitioner relied on the provisions of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009, to support their argument that eliminating the screening procedure is essential to implement the RTE Act. However, the Delhi High Court’s judgment noted that after a bill passes through the state’s House of Legislature, it is presented to the Governor, who has the authority to grant assent, withhold assent, or refer the bill to the President.
The High Court held that the courts cannot interfere in this procedure or direct the Governor to set a timeframe for decisions that fall within the Governor’s domain. Even though the bill has passed the House, the Governor has the discretion to agree or return the bill to the House. Therefore, the High Court refused to issue a writ of mandamus directing the Governor to act.
During the court proceedings, the petitioner’s counsel explained the importance of the bill. However, Justice Kaul asserted that it is not appropriate to issue a mandamus to introduce a law, as this is a legislative matter, not an administrative action. He pointed out that many laws take time to be implemented and cited the example of the Rent Control Act, which took ten years to come into force. When asked about the bill’s introduction, the counsel stated it was introduced in 2015, eight years ago.
Justice Kaul commented that the delay suggests that the authorities may not want the law to come into force. The counsel attempted to persuade the bench, but the Supreme Court ultimately dismissed the plea.
This decision affirms the High Court’s stance that the courts should not interfere with the legislative process and the Governor’s authority to decide on the bill.