Delhi High Court today sought the response of Delhi education department on a plea against its direction to private unaided schools to provide their buses to run as public transport during the operation of the odd-even scheme from January 1 to 15.
Justice Hima Kohli did not issue any interim order against the Department of Education’s (DoE) direction after the AAP government said no coercive steps would be taken against those schools which do not give buses for the scheme.
It, however, issued notice to DoE and sought its reply by January 14, the next date of hearing.
Senior standing counsel for Delhi government Rahul Mehra, who appeared for DoE, told the court that 1700 buses have been voluntarily provided by several private unaided schools.
He also said no private unaided school has been compelled or coerced into giving their buses.
Mehra also questioned the maintainability of the plea filed by Action Committee of Unaided Recognised Private Schools, saying the body has not given any details as to which schools are their members or who among them were forced to give their buses.
The query regarding the names of the association members as well as who among them were forced to give their buses for the scheme was raised by the court also.
During arguments, senior advocate J P Sengh, appearing for the association, told the court that DoE does not have the authority to issue directions to private unaided schools to give their buses for the scheme.
The association has challenged DoE’s orders of December 18 and December 21 by which the schools were directed to give their buses, along with their drivers and cleaners.
DoE had also directed the private unaided recognised schools on December 21 to ensure that their buses get registered over the next two days, the association’s petition filed through advocate Pramod Gupta said.
Sengh submitted that the association had sent a representation to DoE on December 21, but has not received any response.
He also said that as per the insurance policies the schools have for their buses, these vehicles cannot be used for any other purpose except for the functioning of schools.
Association’s counsel also said the buses of private schools were only meant to ferry students and teachers.
Contending that city’s private unaided recognised schools are managed by their own resources and the government does not provide any financial help to them, the association requested the court to stay the operation of the two notifications issued on December 18 and December 21.
The Delhi government has directed all city schools to shut from January 1-15 during the trial period of its odd-even formula.
The plea said there was no provision which authorises Delhi government to take control of private property of these schools, without their consent, for government or public use and this was in violation of constitutional rights.
“The act of the Directorate of Education to make the schools sign on the dotted line and ask them to sign the standard agreement of DTC for the school buses is completely autocratic,” the school body added.
The association in their plea said that forcing private schools to provide their buses was completely unfair and illegal.
( Source – PTI )