SC begins crucial hearing on Right to Education

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New Delhi, Feb 17 (PTI) With the admission season on, theSupreme Court today began a crucial hearing on the validity ofsome provisions of the Right to Free and Compulsory EducationAct with minority and private unaided institutions opposingthe mandatory reservation of 25 per cent seats foreconomically backward sections under the legislation.

A Bench comprising Chief Justice S H Kapadia and JusticesK S Radhakrishnan and Swantanter Kumar took up the matter on apriority basis keeping in mind that the admission process forthe nursery has to be completed by April.

Opening the arguments for some Uttar Pradesh-basedminority institutions and Association of Unaided Schools fromKarnataka, former Additional Solicitor General Vikas Singhput up a 3-point opposition to the law contending that itviolated the rights of private educational institutions underArticle 19(1)(g).

He said the Act was coming in the way of autonomy ofprivate managements to run their institutions withoutgovernment interference.

Singh said it was for the state to ensure the right toeducation to children between the age of 6 to 14 years but ithas no right to impose any reservation on minority and unaidedprivate schools.

Further, the Act, he said, violates the rights ofprivate institutions guarated under Article 19(g) as "minorityand private unaided institutions have a right to admitstudents of their choice".

"Any legislation cannot interfere with that right,"the senior advocate submitted.

He said private and minority institutions cannot beforced to work under the Act as it would amount to interferingwith their right to administration which is recognised by theCBSE, ICSE or the state board.

During the hearing on January 21, the court had takennote of the government affidavit which said the issue did notinvolve Article 15(5) of the Constitution.

The court said a three-judge bench can hear the matter ifthe issue of of basic principle of the Constituion was notraised.

The main petitioner Society for Un-aided PrivateSchools, Rajasthan, and a host of associations representingvarious private schools have questioned the validity of theAct on the ground that it impinged on their rights to run theeducational institutions.

The apex court had noted that since the amendment tothe Constitution which led to the enactment of the Right toEducation Act has been challenged, the matter would be placedbefore a larger bench to decide its legal validity.

The petitioners had contended that the issues involvedin the Act relate to Article 15 (5) and to Article 21(A) ofthe Constitution. .

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