SC to examine Karnataka RTE rules, issues notice

A bench presided over by Justice N V Ramana issued a notice to the Karnataka government on a plea questioning legality of 2019 amendment to the Right to Education Act.

The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to examine the validity of the Karnataka rules exempting unaided and private schools from admitting 25% students from the poor and disadvantaged group to class I, if the government and aided schools were available in their neighbourhood.

A bench presided over by Justice N V Ramana and comprising Justices Ajay Rastogi and Surya Kant issued a notice to the Karnataka government on a plea questioning legality of 2019 amendment to the rules framed under the Right to Education Act.

The court, however, declined to stay the Karnataka High Court's judgement of May 31, 2019, while admitting two petitions filed by 'Education Rights Trust' and others and 'RTE Students and Parents Association' for consideration.

The high court had upheld the constitutional validity of the amendment to Rule 4 of the Karnataka Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Rules, 2012.

Senior advocates Meenakshi Arora and Jayna Kothari, appearing for the petitioners, challenged the validity of the verdict and insisted for staying it. The court, however, decided to issue notice and sought the Karnataka government's response on two petitions.

The petitioners claimed the amended rules were detrimental and unfair to the Karnataka students who belonged to the weaker and disadvantaged groups. Their rights have been adversely impacted and have resulted in a 92% decline in RTE application as per the newspaper reports, they claimed.

The amendment provided that “no unaided school falling under sub-clause (iv) of clause (n) of Section 2 of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2019 shall be identified for the purpose of admission of disadvantaged group or weaker section, where government school and aided schools are available within the neighbourhood.”

"By making the obligation of providing education to children from weaker sections and disadvantaged groups contingent upon the absence of government schools, the High Court ignored the clear language of the RTE Act and made it redundant," RTE Students & Parents Association, represented by its General Secretary, B N Yogananda stated.

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