The Delhi High Court has dismissed a petition by a non-government organisation challenging charging of fees from students of Class I to VIII by Kendriya Vidyalayas running in civil and public sectors across the country.
A Division Bench of Justice N.V. Ramana and Justice Manmohan dismissed the petition saying that the Right to Education (RTE) Act is not meant to subsidise the education of the wards of rich and influential parents.
The petitioner, Social Jurist, through its counsel Ashok Agarwal had opposed the charging of fees from these students arguing that it violated the Fundamental Right to Life and the RTE Act.
Counsel for the Kendriya Vidyalaya clarified to the Court that 25 per cent of the total seats in Class I were filled by the wards of weaker sections of society and they were not charged any fees as per the RTE Act.
Dismissing the petition, the Bench said: “In our opinion, if the petitioner’s argument is accepted, it would amount to violation of Article 14 of the Constitution which clearly mandates that the unequal cannot be treated equally.”
“In our view, all the children do not require ‘free and compulsory education’. Certainly not the ones who belong to the privileged section of society…. They are already getting much more than the minimum required by others who are not so privileged or favourably placed in life,” the Bench said.
“In our opinion, if the petitioner’s argument is accepted, it would amount to violation of Article 14 of the Constitution which clearly mandates that the unequal cannot be treated equally,” the Bench stated.
We also do not find any merit in Mr. Agarwal’s submission that all children should be given free elementary education irrespective of their socio-economic background.
In our opinion, if this submission were to be accepted, the Government would have to reimburse fees to students of rich parents studying in private unaided schools,” the Bench further said.
“The intent of the RTE Act is to ensure that all children have access to elementary education… is not to subsidise the wards of the rich and influential parents. Its main objective is anchored in the belief that the values of equality, social justice and democracy and the creation of a just and humane society can be achieved only through provision of inclusive elementary education to all,” the Bench clarified.
“Provision of free and compulsory education of satisfactory quality to children from disadvantaged and weaker sections is, therefore, not merely the responsibility of schools run or supported by the appropriate Governments, but also of schools which are not dependent on Government funds…,” the Bench said.