SC upholds RTE Act provision

Schools must reserve 25 pc seats for poor and weaker sections

 “The Right to Education Act is one of the means to identify a priority group and to help them. If the state is under obligation to do (provide education) it, then it can ask private schools to do it as well,” a three-judge Bench headed by Chief Justice S H Kapadia said.

The Bench made the observations while hearing a batch of petitions filed by different associations of private and un-aided schools challenging the constitutional validity of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act or Right to Education (RTE) Act 2009.      

Several associations of private schools contended the RTE Act violated their fundamental rights by directing them to reserve 25 per cent for poor students. The Court went on to cite examples of certain state laws through which the state takes welfare measures like slum development through constructing houses on slum land where a portion is reserved for the weaker sections.

“The state can direct to keep a portion of the land in slum development for the weaker and disadvantaged groups,” it said.

The Court said that the state can impose certain conditions and those (private schools) opposing them have to prove that these conditions were casting “unreasonable restrictions” on their fundamental rights. It asked the schools to establish before it as to how the Act violated their fundamental rights including the right to pursue the occupation. “We can’t strike down the law (without examining all aspects),” the Bench also comprising Justices K S Radhakrishnan and Swantanter Kumar observed.

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