SL SC | Unequal application of law is not necessarily denial of equal protection;  petition dismissed for failure to show element of intentional and purposeful discrimination

Supreme Court of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka: Buwaneka Aluwihare, and Prasanna Jayawardena PC, JJ., while dismissing an application observed that the petitioners could not give any justifiable reason or adduce any material to support the application form for admission.

In the instant case, Petitioner 1, father of Petitioner 2, submitted an application for his son to Richmond College, Galle for admission to Grade One in the year 2018. The application was made under the core category “Children residing in close proximity to the School” on the basis of Clause 7.2 of the Admission Circular (P1).

Thereafter, an interview took place in which Petitioner 2 was granted 84 marks. 15 marks were deducted under Sub-Clause 7.2.3 for 3 schools situated in closer proximity to the Petitioner’s residence than the preferred school, Richmond College, Galle.

Petitioner 2 was not selected but was first on the waiting list. Petitioner 1 submitted an appeal stating inter-alia that the Interview Panel had deducted 10 marks under Sub-Clause 7.2.3 contrary to the provisions of the Admission Circular P1.

Counsel for the petitioners, M.U.M. Ali Sabry, PC, contended that the deduction was not correct as the two schools i.e., CWW Kannangara Vidyalaya, Galle and Paramananda Vidyalaya, Galle admit only a restricted number of children (viz. 1%) belonging to the Islamic faith. It was submitted by the petitioner that if these 10 marks would not have been deducted Petitioner 2 would have obtained 94 marks and would have been on top of the list to gain admission to Richmond College, Galle. Thus, the Petitioner alleged, that Respondent’s actions were violative of his fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution.

Counsel for the Respondents Suren Gnanaraj, SSC, submitted that the deduction was right as other schools are in closer proximity to the Petitioner’s residence than Richmond College, Galle and that the Petitioner who is of Islamic faith was eligible to seek admission to the said three schools without any hindrance because the said three schools admit children of the Islamic faith without any restriction.

The main issue which the Court dealt with is whether the deduction of 10 marks for CWW Kannangara Vidyalaya and Paramananda Maha Vidyalaya is in violation of Sub-Clause 7.2.3 of the Admission Circular marked P1.

The applicant is required to name the said schools which are in closer proximity to the preferred school in the Application Form. The Petitioners did not indicate a single school.

The application tendered by the Petitioner (P2) further revealed that the Petitioner applied only to two schools namely, Richmond College, Galle and Paramananda Vidyalaya for admission to Grade One in the year 2018 though the Admission Circular requires a parent to apply to at least six schools including three Provincial Schools.

The Court after analyzing the submissions, observed that the petitioners should have established before this Court, whether there is a regulation or a rule that the school, being a Government School “can” admit only less than 10% of children belonging to the Islamic faith or that there are restrictions placed on the said school with regard to admissions or the said school “can” admit only a particular number of children of a particular faith or a particular percentage of children belonging to a particular faith, which the petitioners have failed to do so.

It was also observed by the Court that the Application Form, tendered by the Petitioner to Richmond College, Galle tells that the Petitioner sought admission to only one other School and it was Paramananda Maha Vidyalaya, Galle. The Petitioner also failed to inform this Court, whether he was able to gain admission to Paramananda Maha Vidyalaya, Galle or whether the Petitioner 2 was deprived of admission to the said school, on the ground that the percentage for children of Islamic faith i.e. 1% had been exhausted.[Shahul Majeed Mohomed Rizwan v.  Sampath Weragoda, 2019 SCC OnLine SL SC 8, decided on 09-10-2019]

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