The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear a plea challenging the Delhi High Court’s order that the Right to Education (RTE) Act is not applicable to nursery admissions in unaided private schools.
A bench of justices H L Dattu and Dipak Misra issued notice to Delhi government seeking its response on an appeal filed by an NGO, Social Jurist challenging the high court’s order.
Advocate Ashok Aggarwal, appearing for the NGO, submitted that the high court erred in law in holding that the RTE Act applied only in the matter of admission of children between the age of 6 to 14 years and is not applicable to nursery admissions.
“The Delhi High Court has clearly erred in law in holding that the provisions of Section 13 of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 apply only in the matter of admission of the children between the age of 6 years to 14 years and not applicable to the admission of children below 6 years in unaided private schools,” the NGO has submitted in its petition.
“Section 13 of the Act was formulated in the context of rampant screening practices being adopted by the private unaided schools in nursery admissions which had resulted in a comprehensive round of litigation in the high court. It was to correct this mischief the said provision was incorporated,” the petition said.
The high court had passed the verdict on February 19, holding that the RTE Act and subsequent government notifications were not applicable to nursery admission in unaided private schools.
It had, however, asked the Centre to consider amending the Act to include nursery education as well, saying that the schools could not be allowed to run as “teaching shops” as it would be “detrimental to equal opportunity to children”.
The high court had said, “Though we have held that the Right to Education Act is not applicable to nursery schools, in our opinion there cannot be any different yardstick to be adopted for education to children up to the age of 14 years irrespective of the fact that it applies to only elementary education.
“It is the right time for the government to consider the applicability of the Right to Education Act to the nursery classes as well, as in many of the states admissions are made right from the nursery classes and the children so admitted are automatically allowed to continue from class I.”
“In that sense, the provisions of Section 13 would be rendered meaningless in so far as it prohibits screening procedure at the time of selection,” it had said.