The RTE Students & Parents Association, a non-profit organisation, filed a PIL challenging an amendment to the Karnataka Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Rules, 2012, that removed the obligation of private unaided schools to admit 25% of their students from disadvantaged groups or weaker sections where there are government-run or aided schools within the neighborhood. The organisation argued that this amendment runs contrary to the purpose of the parent act, the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act 2009 [Central Act 35 of 2009], and is violative of Article 21A (The State shall provide free and compulsory education to all children of the age of six to fourteen years) of the Constitution of India.
The high court made this observation while dismissing a couple of PILs challenging the constitutional validity of Karnataka Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (Amendment) Rules, 2018. The amended rules, notified on January 30, bar identifying an unaided school for admission under RTE quota if there are government and aided schools in the neighbourhood. If students are admitted to such private schools, the authorities cannot reimburse the fees. The court said though education is a fundamental right under Article 21A, the petitioners (RTE Students-Parents Association and others) or such students have no right to admission to private unaided schools as long as government institutions, local authorities’ schools or aided ones are available in the neighbourhood.
Wherever the government schools exist, the state need not reimburse the cost or expenditure of a child admitted to a private school under RTE quota in the said neighbourhood. “If the parents want to admit their children to private unaided schools(in such areas), it is out of their decision for which the Government is not liable or accountable” a division bench comprising Justices L Narayana Swamy and P S Dinesh Kumar observed.
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