In a significant development, the Delhi High Court has issued an order that will impact families under the Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) category seeking school admissions. The court has set the annual income limit for eligibility under the EWS quota at ₹2.5 lakh. This decision aims to ensure that children from families with annual incomes up to this amount can access education under the EWS quota in schools.

Revision of the Income Limit

The division bench, comprising Acting Chief Justice Manmohan and Justice Manmeet Preetam Singh Arora, modified an earlier single-judge bench’s order, which had increased the annual income limit for EWS category from ₹1 lakh to ₹5 lakh. The bench adjusted this figure to ₹2.5 lakh, citing potential adverse effects on eligible candidates from families earning up to ₹1 lakh, as they might have faced decreased chances of securing admission under the EWS quota with the higher income limit.

Implications of the Revised Order

The revised order comes after the Delhi government challenged the single-judge bench’s decision to increase the income ceiling. The government’s standing counsel (civil) Santosh Kumar Tripathi argued that the sudden hike in the income limit could negatively impact the prospects of admission for candidates from genuinely economically weaker sections. Maintaining the current policy based on self-declaration of income was deemed appropriate, without necessitating any changes.

The high court has issued notices to the relevant parties, including schools and children, to respond to the matter, with further hearings scheduled for August. The court also directed the Delhi government’s Directorate of Education to develop a standard operating procedure for regular monitoring of income verification and eligibility criteria to ensure the continuity of free seats under the EWS quota in schools.

Future Directions

The interim order by the high court temporarily establishes the income limit for EWS admissions, pending a final decision in August. The directive emphasizes the need for a robust framework to ensure that the EWS quota genuinely benefits the intended beneficiaries without being exploited due to loopholes in the self-declaration system.

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