The Punjab and Haryana High Court on Wednesday issued a notice to St Stephens School in Chandigarh in connection with the plea the Union Territory filed against the institute’s minority status, The Indian Express reported. The administration had earlier filed a similar petition against St Kabir Public School, after which the court had stayed the institute’s minority status.
In its plea against St Stephens, the Chandigarh administration claimed that the National Commission For Minority Educational Institutions “illegally, arbitrarily and unlawfully” granted minority status to the school on September 7, 2016, beyond its original jurisdiction. The government said the commission could, instead, use its appellate jurisdiction to direct a competent authority to grant minority status on an appeal by such institutes.
The petition also said that the Union Territory Estate Office had granted St Stephens land on lease in 1989, but the school had unilaterally altered its Memorandum of Association and the terms and conditions of land allotment to ensure that it gets the minority tag, according to The Indian Express.
The original memorandum did not indicate that members of the Christian community had set up the school, that some or all of its members must belong to that community, or that the college was set up for the benefit of the community.
The administration said St Stephens wanted minority status to avoid fulfilling the mandatory provisions of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, which are not applicable to institutes with the minority tag.