Justice Manmohan quashed the guidelines issued by the lieutenant governor which means neighbourhood, sibling, and alumni criteria set as per the notification will go.

Schools can now set their own criteria according to the 2007 Ganguly committee guidelines. The court said the guidelines were a violation of fundamental rights of the school management to have maximum autonomy in day-to-day administration including the right to admit students.

"The government cannot impose a strait-jacket formula of admission on the schools under the guise of reasonable restriction and that too without any authority of law," it said.

On December 18, 2013, the Lieutenant Governor issued guidelines after which a number of petitions were filed against them. The guidelines outlined several criteria, including the neighbourhood factor, which sought that schools should give preference to children living within a radius of eight km from the school.

This criterion was given the maximum weightage of 70 points out of 100 in open category seats.

Other criteria were: siblings studying in the same school (20 points), applications of girls (five points), and wards of school alumni (five points).

Quashing the guidelines, it said the power to decide the school for a child should lie with the parents and not with the government.

The court said that it nowhere stipulates that "children would have to take admission only in a neighbourhood school or that children cannot take admissions in schools situated beyond their neighbourhood".

"The court is of the opinion that by having parental choice and granting schools the autonomy to admit students, the accountability of private schools can be ensured. The neighbourhood concept was better taken care of by private unaided schools, in terms of the guidelines laid down in the Ganguly committee report as well as under the admissions order 2007," it said.

The court said it was in favour of the 'graded/slab' system followed earlier in all schools wherein the person living closest to the school was given the maximum marks.

"This ensured that children have the option to go to a neighbourhood school, but their choice was not restricted to a school situated in their locality. The power to choose a school has to primarily vest with the parents and not with the administration," it said.

It said there is no proof to show that private unaided schools were indulging in any malpractice or were misusing their right to admit students.

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