The Delhi government appealed before a high court bench on Thursday against a single judge's interim order that had stayed its new nursery school admissions based on the neighbourhood criterion.
The government's appeal, which is likely to be heard soon, argues that in the absence of the neighbourhood criterion, schools will accept admissions in an arbitrary and opaque manner, and even justify charging exorbitant fees from parents.
In two directives on December 19, 2016 and January 7, the Delhi government had made it compulsory for 298 private schools built on Delhi Development Authority land to accept nursery children who live in that neighbourbood or live within a certain distance from the school.
Maintaining that the order passed by the single judge was "totally wrong", "erroneous" and "against the law", the Delhi government sought setting aside of the order.
Ordering an interim stay of the January 7 notification till final disposal of the pleas challenging the Delhi government order, Justice Manmohan had earlier said that "a student's educational fate can't be relegated to only his/her position on a map" and had termed the criterion as "arbitrary and discriminatory".
The government, in its appeal, said "leaving it to the schools to frame their own guidelines will only promote arbitrariness of private managements and lead to admissions in an opaque manner. This will help the school management to justify the exorbitant fees they charge". The school groups had alleged that the Delhi government has "discriminated" among schools as neighbourhood criteria had been applied against only 298 schools and not been made mandatory for 1,400 other schools in the city.