Delhi High Court: A group of parents of government school students of Delhi have filed a writ petition before the Delhi High Court, challenging the Delhi Government circular which has laid out instructions to reconstitute School Management Committees (SMCs). The School Management Committees constituted under Section 21 of the Right to Education Act, 2009 perform various functions including formulation of a School Development Plan which is the basis of plans and grants which are made by the local authorities to the School. The petitioners allege that the Government has arbitrarily issued instructions for the reconstitution of School Management Committees by way of online draw of lots. This, the petitioners allege, is contrary to the spirit of the Right to Education Act, 2009 which mandates parent-guardian members to be elected and constitute the SMC’s through active participation of the community. The petition asserts that choosing parent representatives by a process which does not give any say to the very parents that these representatives will represent is undemocratic
Other objections filed by the petitioners against this government circular are that only a seven day window has been given to file nominations without any prior effort to spread awareness about the nomination process and roles and responsibilities of the SMC, thereby leaving many parent members excluded from the nomination process. Secondly, the nomination process is online, which excludes those who don’t have access to internet facilities. The petitioners have questioned the need to reconstitute the SMCs in the middle of a pandemic.The timing of this circular excludes deeply vulnerable groups, those who are shifting to government schools from private schools because of loss of livelihood and others affected by the pandemic for various reasons.
The petitioners have prayed for the following:
- Reconstitution of SMCs should be postponed during the pandemic and the tenure of the current SMCs should be extended as they are better equipped to support children/ school at this time compared to newly constituted committees which wouldn’t have gone through any training.
- SMC members should be elected and not selected through draw of lots
- Whenever elections are conducted the period of filing nominations should be extended beyond 7 days
- Whenever elections are conducted, offline process of filing nominations should be available
- Whenever elections are conducted measures should be taken to spread awareness of SMC elections