Education

Discrimination against Muslim Children in Delhi Private Schools Admissions

Supreme Court Approached to ensure fair practices

Kamala Kanta Dash, BeyondHeadlines

A group of parents whose children have been denied admission to pre-primary classes in a number of private schools in Delhi through a Special Leave Petition (SLP) have approached the Supreme Court to intervene to ensure fair and inclusive practices in admissions. The petition filed by Snehasshish Mukherjee has been signed by Dr. Midhat Hussain, Tarique Akhtar, Syed Md. Talha, Masood Alam and Afroz Alam Sahil and the legal support has been provided by lawyers like Advocate Sarim Naved and  Political Activist  Adv. Adil Hasan.

The petition establishes how the private schools continue irrational admission policies for pre-primary school admissions which have led to a bias against children living in certain areas of the city which happen to have a high concentration of Muslim residents.

The petition complains that despite Muslims being 12 percent of Delhi’s population, the number of Muslim children being admitted to the nursery classes in these schools as a percentage of the total number of admissions is a mere 0.5 percent. It is indeed a matter of grave concern that while roughly one out of eight persons on the streets of Delhi is a Muslim, only one out of two hundred of the children admitted to pre-primary schools is a Muslim.

The petition has not only identified this practice as unfair and worrying in the context of children’s education, but in the context of a larger worry, that is leading to increasing ghettoization of Muslims in Delhi. The petitioners have gone further and have asserted that they now strongly believe that the attempts to marginalise students from the Muslim localities and from the Muslim Community in particular are nothing but deliberate. This is a dangerous situation of deliberate exclusion and the government and the Supreme Court need to take immediate steps to intervene and set it right.

Moreover, private schools cannot shy away from their responsibilities and cannot discriminate against students on the basis of their religion.  The action of private schools in discriminating against Muslim neighbourhoods and Muslim children does violate their fundamental rights of access to education. The applicants have requested the court to ensure a situation where admissions to private schools are carried out in a fair, transparent and inclusive manner.

Note: BH has a copy of this Special Leave Petition and the author has used the petition as the base to write this article.

(The author is Honorary Editor of Beyond Headlines and is working on the Engagement of the Muslim Community in Policy making in India and Australia for his PhD at Monash University. He can be reached at kamaljnu@gmail.com)

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