Govts cannot set arbitrary norms for starting CBSE schools: SC

Govts cannot set arbitrary norms for starting CBSE schools: SC

DH file photo for representation.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday said that the state governments cannot set “arbitrary” conditions for granting no objection certificate for starting CBSE-affiliated schools.

“The fundamental right to free and compulsory education for all children between the ages 6 and 14 years postulates good quality education and not just education for the sake of providing education. Regulation of such education is permissible by law and not by executive fiat,” a bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta said.

The top court dismissed a batch of petitions filed by the Kerala government against the state High Court's judgement of 2012 that had set aside the guidelines issued by the state government in 2011, mandating minimum three acres of land and 300 students on rolls, among others.

“It appears to us that the rigid requirement of Kerala indicates that it is imposed upon the schools that seek affiliation with the CBSE only with a view to unnecessarily burden them with an onerous and arbitrary condition, since Kerala believes it has the authority to do so,” the bench said.

CBSE bye-laws

The court took into consideration the CBSE affiliation bye-laws which stated that the minimum land requirement varied from location to location.

The requirement is that the school must have two acres of land, along with certain exceptions. For example, in cities with a population exceeding 25 lakhs, the land should not be less than one acre with adequate building and arrangement with other institution/organisation for imparting physical and health education and for conducting games to the satisfaction of the CBSE. In hilly areas, the land should not be less than one acre.

“Unfortunately, Kerala seeks to impose its authority over schools that provide apparently quality education, which is perceived to be a threat to the public education system,” the bench said.

The Kerala government's plea that restrictions were put on CBSE schools to prevent their mushrooming growth failed to convince the court, which noted the state did not give details for arriving at this conclusion.

“But the very fact that there is a mushroom growth of CBSE schools is an indication that the public education system in Kerala as managed by the state government leaves something to be desired in terms of the quality of education. How does the restriction imposed by Kerala benefit the children of the state,” the bench asked.