View RTE Act from child's perspective, says SC

 “You (private/unaided schools) are looking at it from the point of view of institutional autonomy and freedom. What about the child’s right to get education.

“You are not looking at the right of the child. You are only looking at your right to run your institution,” a Bench headed by Chief Justice S H Kapadia said.

The court made the observation 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 2009.

The associations contended that the Act was “arbitrary” and “excessive,”  besides being contrary to fundamental right guaranteed under the Constitution’s Article 19(1) (g) dealing with freedom provided to pursue one’s occupation.

Senior counsel Dushyant Dave, arguing on behalf of the associations of private-unaided schools of Karnataka, submitted that the Article 21 (A) providing free and mandatory education to every child put the obligation only on the state not on the private organisations.

“State can appoint new teachers, open new schools and make more funds available. It is escapism on its part to shift burden on private schools,” Dave said.

“But what is the problem if the state says that it was ready to reimburse the expenses that you (schools) may incur in reserving 25 per cent seats for poor children,” the court asked.

“If your point is that this reimbursement is not enough, then it is a different ball game,” it added. Dave also submitted that the court could not be oblivious of the fact that the provisions of the Act would impact society as far as quality of education was concerned.

The court, however, said it had to balance the rights of the state with that of the citizens.
“Nothing is absolute in the world, it is only relative. It depends on how you view it,” Justice Kapadia said referring to Einstein’s principles.

The court indicated that it could lay down certain guidelines with regard to implementation of the Act during the day-long hearing which remained inconclusive.

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