Are poor kids getting free uniforms; HC orders inspection

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court today directed the AAP government to carry out an inspection of all private and government schools to ascertain whether free uniforms and stationary were being provided to poor kids.

A bench of Justices S Ravindra Bhat and Yogesh Khanna gave the direction saying it wants to study "the ground reality" as to whether the poor kids were getting the benefits provided under the Right to Education Act and the rules framed under it.

It asked the Directorate of Education (DoE) to examine if the funds being given to the schools were being used towards financing of the uniforms and stationary for the poor kids.

The bench also made the Centre a party in the matter and issued notice to it seeking its stand after the Delhi government said that substantial funds come from the Centre.

The court was hearing a PIL filed by an NGO, Justice for All, seeking free study material and uniform for poor kids studying in private as well as municipal and government schools.

In another matter, the South Delhi Municipal Corporation told the high court that it provided school bags to students of classes I and III and has sought funds from Delhi government to extend the benefit to all students.

The SDMC also said, in an affidavit, that it already provides notebooks to children and now a policy decision has been taken to provide them with pencils, erasers and sharpeners for which an amount of Rs one crore has been set aside.

The SDMC has also said that till now, it has been providing a subsidy of Rs 500 for uniform and since the Delhi government has increased the uniform subsidies, a letter has been written to DoE to provide additional funds.

Recently, the Delhi government had told the court it has enhanced the cash subsidy provided to students in schools run by it for purchase of uniforms and stationary for the academic session 2017-18.

The DoE had said that the decision to hike the cash subsidy for buying uniforms was taken in the recent budget session of the Delhi government. It said that the amount would be transferred to the students' accounts.