Even as the Right to Education Act has been challenged in Supreme Court, the government today said the legal process would not affect the implementation of law which is set to be made effective from April 1.
“The Supreme Court has given notice to the government. Everybody has the right to challenge the government. The court will decide. But the implementation of the Act will not be affected,” HRD Minister Kapil Sibal told reporters during an interaction at Indian Women Press Corps here.
The Supreme Court on Monday sought the Centre’s response on a petition challenging the Right to Free and Compulsory Education Act as being “unconstitutional” and violating fundamental rights of unaided private educational institutions.
The 86th amendment to the Constitution in 2002 made education a fundamental right of every child. Parliament last year passed the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act to enable implementation of the amendment. The government has already notified both the Constitutional Amendment and the Act with effect from April 1.
The Act mandates that even private educational institutions have to reserve 25 per cent seats for children from weaker sections.
The petition claimed that the Act violated the rights of private educational institutions under Article 19(1)(g) which mandated maximum autonomy to private managements to run their institutions without governmental interference.
The petition has challenged the Act that mandates all schools including minority institutions to admit without any choice each and every child whosoever comes to take admission in those schools in the neighbourhood.
Mr. Sibal said the government is yet to get the notice. But it will keep its point of view before the apex court.
“The Act will be effective from April 1. The institutions will be given requisite time to come in line of the provisions of the Act,” he said.
The provisions of the Act say no school can deny admission to a student and all schools need to have trained teachers. In the case of schools not having trained teachers, they will have to comply in a period of three years.
As per the Act, the schools need to have certain minimum facilities like adequate teachers, playground and infrastructure.
Mr. Sibal said the government will evolve some mechanism to help marginalised schools comply with the provisions of the Act.
Asked about certain schools denying admission to students of special needs, he said the Act mandates that no school can deny admission to any student.
The 86th Amendment to the Constitution provides for free and compulsory education to all children in the 6 -14 age group in such manner as the State may, by law, determine.
The amendment requires a parent or guardian to provide opportunities for education to his child or, as the case may be, ward, between the age of 6 and 14 years.
Keywords: Right to Education Act, Indian Women Press Corps, Right to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 86th Amendment, Constitution of India, fundamental rights, Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act