A Division Bench of the Kerala High Court has allowed appeals filed by the Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan challenging the Judgment of a single judge who had allowed the Writ Petitions filed by children who were denied admission despite recommendations under the discretionary quota of the Chairman of the Vidyalaya Management Committee (VMC).

The Bench of Justice PB Suresh Kumar and Justice CS Sudha while dealing with a writ appeal observed thus "A person who bases his claim on the doctrine of legitimate expectation, in the first instance, must satisfy that there is a foundation and thus has a locus standi to make such a claim."

In this case, the Court was dealing with appeals arising out of two writ petitions.

Both the petitions pertain to the admission of children to the Kendriya Vidyalaya school. In the first writ petition, it was alleged on behalf of the minor children that on the basis of the assurance given by the said school that the child would be admitted to the School, they had applied for a Transfer Certificate from the School where they were studying.

However, the school stopped the admission process mid-way and refused admission to the children.

In the second writ petition which was filed by the father of another minor child who had sought admission in Class I in the Kendriya Vidyalaya, the petitioner contended that the Chairman of the Kendriya Vidyalaya had a right to recommend a maximum of two admissions in the KVs concerned under his discretionary quota. Accordingly, the District Collector, Kannur, the Chairman of the KV, recommended the admission of the petitioner in the Chairman's quota in the 1st Standard. However, the petitioner argued that, in supersession of the earlier guidelines, KVS issued new guidelines, which took away the Chairman's quota thereby denying the legitimate right of the petitioner.

The school informed the Court that necessary amendments have been carried out in the admission guidelines in the Kendriya Vidyalayas (KVs) to align it with National Education Policy, 2020.

It was submitted that under the special provisions, admissions being granted under the discretionary quota over and above the class strength was discontinued in certain categories. Prior to the amendment to the guidelines, the Chairman of Vidyalaya Management Committee could recommend two admissions in the KV concerned under his discretionary quota in an academic year.

In order to streamline the admission process and also to ensure admission to more deserving students, as per priority, KVS undertook a review of its admission scheme specifically Part-B of the guidelines which provides for admission to students in discretionary quotas. Accordingly, the KVS through its regional offices directed the Principals of all KVs to put on hold all such admission under special provisions till further communication.

The Chairman, VMC, had requested the principal of the school to consider the admission of the said minor child in Class II for the academic year 2022-2023 under his discretionary quota. However, before the completion of the admission process, the KVS instructed all Principals to put on hold the admissions under the special provision, including the Chairman's discretionary quota.

The Single Judge allowed the writ petition holding that the petitioners had a legitimate expectation that they would be given admission in accordance with the pre-revised guidelines and that the decision taken by the school altering the admission guidelines and rules after the process for admission had started was arbitrary, unreasonable, irrational and taken against the public interest.

Aggrieved, this decision was challenged before the Division Bench of the High Court.

Assistant Solicitor General S.Manu, appeared for the appellants-KV, and Advocates B.G.Harindranath and George T. J. appeared for the minor child.

At the outset, the Court noted thus "A writ of mandamus cannot be granted unless it is established that there is an existing legal right of the applicant, or an existing duty of the respondent. Thus, the writ does not lie to create or to establish a legal right, but to enforce one already established."

The Bench also referred to the judgment of the apex court in the case- Ayurved Shastra Seva Mandal v. Union of India, (2013) where it was held that the privilege granted to candidates in the matter of education cannot be transformed into a right.

The Court further placed reliance on the Supreme Court's view that If the policy decision of the Government is in the larger public interest, courts should not interfere with the same.

In the context of the instant case the Bench noted thus "In the case on hand, the argument is that the petitioner had exercised the privilege, that is, on the basis of the recommendation letter given by the Chairman, VMC, she had submitted the application for admission and hence she had derived a legitimate right to be admitted as per the guidelines issued by the 2nd respondent."

"In Union of India v. Hindustan Development Corporation, AIR 1994 SC 988, it has been held that it is generally agreed that legitimate expectation gives the applicant sufficient locus standi for judicial review and that the doctrine of legitimate expectation is to be confined mostly to, right of a fair hearing before a decision which results in negativing a promise or withdrawing an undertaking is taken. The doctrine does not give scope to claim relief straightaway from the administrative authorities as no crystalised right as such is involved.", the bench noted further.

The Court observed that a person who bases his claim on the doctrine of legitimate expectation, in the first instance, must satisfy that there is a foundation and thus has a locus standi to make such a claim. The Court emphasized that the decision taken by the authority must be found to be arbitrary, unreasonable, and not taken in the public interest.

Therefore, the Court held that merely because a student has a recommendation letter to his credit, would not entitle him to the right to admission to the school.

The Court also observed that granting admission on the basis of recommendations alone, was arbitrary and violative of Article 14 of the Constitution.

Therefore the Court set aside the decision of the Single Judge allowing the petition.

Cause Title- Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan v. Elna Chinchu

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