Kashmir’s 155 schools with more than one lakh students face de-registration; Court stays process for now

by mcdix

Judge Moksha Khajuria Kazmi heard the petitions filed by such private schools and said: “The petitioners have made a plea for ad interim assistance at this stage on the face of it. At least 155 private schools, enrolling more than one lakh students, struggle to keep their registrations intact as the new rules of the Jammu & Kashmir administration ordered the tax authorities to identify the schools located on land other than privately owned in the Union Territory (UT) for deregistration by the Education Department.

Judge Moksha Khajuria Kazmi heard the petitions filed by such private schools and said: “The petitioners have made a prima facie case for ad interim assistance at this stage. In the meantime, barring objections to be submitted by the respondents and until the next hearing, the status quo, as of date, will be maintained.” The case was registered before July 18, 2022. The court order had brought relief at a time when Chief Education Officers (CEOs) in the Valley’s ten counties issued orders to “close schools operating on a state or Kahcharai land.” “The students in such institutions will be housed in nearby government schools, with parental consent,” the order said, which must be executed within 15 days.

Hundreds of private schools in Kashmir have been operating for decades with various land titles such as Shamilat-e-Deh land, Kahcharie land, State land, Ahle Islam land, and Masjid land. However, the Administration of the Lieutenant Governor added two sub-rules to the pre-existing Jammu and Kashmir School Education Rules, 2010, on April 15, 2022, which lays down the procedure for registration of private schools.


The sub-rule (2)(A) and sub-rule (2)(B) asked the schools to obtain a ‘No Objection Statement’ regarding the land use and the rental period by the tax authorities. However, the schools’ management challenged the government’s move in court and told the Supreme Court there was confusion among tax officials between land ownership and “use of the land” without owning the title.

“(Such) schools were established many years ago on the land of the state, and the government has accepted the establishment of such schools from time to time in recent years by granting them ‘registration’ and ‘recognition’ and by penalizing electricity and water connections”, according to the school leaders. They argued in court that the government knew local community members had established the schools to benefit the children on these lands.

“At no stage has the government objected to establishing these schools, which have been in operation for the past few years. All (school) members are in permanent possession. They are not intruders,” they said. The school management has also argued that the schools, which exist on Kahcharie land, were established with the authority and consent of the residents. “In some cases, within the knowledge of the Panchayat. A small portion of the grazing land has been used to set up schools for the benefit of the school-age children and the local community,” they said.

They said the move “put at risk” the entire teaching careers of hundreds of students studying in these schools. “Serious controversy has arisen over the said amendments and the resulting notice and circulars issued… result in the takeover of the management of the school, which is located on the land of Makbooza Ahle-Islam. It has serious consequences and could have a negative effect,” said senior lawyer Zaffar Shah. The new move follows the recent move to ban dozens of schools affiliated with the Falah-e-Aam Trust, an organization affiliated with the banned Jamaat-e-Islami. At least 1,100 students have been affected by the action.

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