The Principal Secretary of Education, present in the court pursuant to its summons, said “there was no wilful default by the government” a stand which was echoed by government counsel Zubeda Begum who said the administration is also concerned.
However, the bench shot back “you do not seem concerned. Concern is reflected by your actions, not your affidavits and replies. You did nothing. You did not even lift your little finger. Actually, this is a contempt which is staring you in the face”.
The court was hearing a contempt plea filed by Pramod Arora, father of a differently-abled child, who has submitted in his petition filed through senior advocate Kirti Uppal and advocate Anshumaan Sahni that the Directorate of Education (DoE) has violated court orders by not issuing the circular.
The Delhi High Court on Friday asked the city government why contempt action should not be initiated against it for “wilful default” of orders to ask 15 schools to keep aside at least two nursery seats each for the children with special needs (CWSN) in the present academic session.
A bench of justices S Ravindra Bhat and Vibhu Bakhru noted there was “wilful default” of its four orders and a judgement by the city government whose “insensitivity” to the whole issue is “writ large”.
“Issue notice as to why contempt of court action be not initiated for wilful default of the court’s orders and judgement. Reply be filed in three days,” the bench said and listed the matter for further hearing on May 20.
The court had in its earlier orders of February and April 2014 as well as a judgement directed the DoE to issue a circular to 43 schools, which have been mentioned in the petition as being capable of handling CWSN, to keep aside some seats in nursery admissions for differently-abled children.
On May 7, the court had directed the DoE to issue the circular to 15 schools, to set aside 2 seats each for CWSN, as according to a DoE inspection they were found to have the necessary facilities to handle differently abled kids.
As no circular was issued, a contempt plea was moved by Arora and the court had on May 13 summoned the Principal Secretary of Education to appear before it on Friday.
Meanwhile, the court termed as “delayed” the review petition moved by DoE seeking recall of directions issued to it regarding admission of differently-abled children in the 43 schools.
“Your review petition is delayed. There is no reason for us to entertain it,” the bench said. Earlier, the DoE had filed a status report saying that pursuant to its inspection, it has been found that 18 out of the 44 schools mentioned in the main petition have the facility to cater to children with special needs (CWSN) while 19 others lacked the same.
It had also submitted it is yet to inspect eight other schools to ascertain whether they can handle these children or not. The petitioner had also submitted a list of seven other schools which can handle CWSN.
Taking note of the list of schools, the court had asked the DoE to issue a circular to the 15 schools to keep aside at least 2 seats for CWSN. The court had also issued notice to rest of the 19 schools, which, as per the DoE, did not have the facility to handle CWSN and asked them to respond as to whether they were willing to admit such children.
Earlier, the court had held the Lt Governor’s nursery admission guidelines were illegal to the extent it bracketed children with special needs with economically weaker section (EWS) and other disadvantaged groups.