Fearing autonomy loss, minority schools approach Guj HC

Fearing loss of autonomy, minority schools in Gujarat approach HC against new act; notice issued

Representative Image. Credit: iStockPhoto

The Gujarat High Court on Thursday issued a notice to the state government on a clutch of petitions moved by an association of minority schools, challenging a recently amended act, which has done away with a clause that allowed such schools "freedom to administer and recruit teachers" on their own without the government's interference.

The petitioner schools have contended that this new act will do away with their autonomy and they will have to eventually appoint teachers or headmasters selected by the government. Similar petitions have been filed previously by other similar schools in which the high court on Monday issued notice to the government. The division bench of chief justice Vikram Nath and justice Biren Vaishnav issued the notice to the state returnable on July 20.

The government-aided minority schools, created based on religion and language, have challenged the Gujarat Secondary and Higher Secondary Education (Amendment) Act, 2021, which came into effect from June 1. They have contended that section 40A of the act, which has replaced section 40A of the Gujarat Secondary and High Secondary Education Act, 1972, the principal act, has taken away the right of such schools to administer itself without government interference. The previous act (section-40A), exempted such schools from certain regulatory provisions. It means that section 17, 34 (2) and 35 of the principal act will be applicable for minority institutions as well. These acts deal with qualifications, methods of selection, condition of appointment, condition of promotion and termination of employees, among others, as laid down by the government.

"It is clear that the selection and appointment of teachers for an educational institution is one of the essential ingredients of the right to manage an educational institution and the minorities can plainly be not denied such right of selection and appointments without infringing Article 30(1) that fundamental right of the minority institutions to manage and administer their educational institutions," the petitioner schools have stated.

"The main grievance of the petitioners herein is with regard to application of the provisions of section 35 of the Gujarat Secondary and Higher Secondary Act, 1972 as being violative of their right to appoint teaching staff (teachers/lecturers and Headmaster/Principals) as also non-teaching staff under Article 30(1) of the Constitution of India," the petition states.

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