The Union government took a U-turn before a division bench of the Delhi High Court, saying its earlier stand that the Right to Education Act does not come in the way of home-schooling was “incorrect and contrary” to Section 10 of the Act.
The Centre has sought time to file a fresh affidavit to clarifying its stand. The Centre had submitted an affidavit on July 16, 2012 in response to a petition filed in 2011 that had questioned the RTE Act, stating that the Act equated schooling with education and did not accommodate those who opt for home-schooling.
The petition filed by Shreya Sahai through her mother had argued that the Act does not cater to children with disabilities who opt for special schools or those studying in alternative schools, such as the ones run in slums.
Hence, the petition sought a direction to include home-schooling and alternative education schools under the ‘specified category’ under Section 2(P) of the RTE Act.
The RTE Act, which came into effect on April 1, 2010 makes it mandatory for every child from six to 14 years to be enrolled in a formal school.
The petitioner had argued that individuals had the right to choose their mode of education.
The Union human resource development ministry had replied to the petition in its affidavit that “parents who voluntarily opt for systems of home-schooling and such alternative forms of schooling may continue to do so. The RTE Act does not come in the way of such schooling methodologies or declare such form of education illegal.”
No to govt stand
However, advocate Ashok Agarwal, in the capacity of an intervener appointed by the High Court in this case, had objected to the government’s and the petitioner’s stand in their affidavits.
“The demand on the part of the petitioner for home-schooling or alternative forms of schooling and the stand taken by the Union government in support of such demand through counter affidavit dated July 16, 2012 is based on completely casual and erroneous interpretation of the letter, spirit and intent of the RTE Act,” he had submitted in his response.
The next date of hearing is December 19.