But the provisions are not applicable to minority institutions

The Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld the constitutional validity of Articles 21A (right to education) and 15 (5) (relating to economically weaker sections), which mandate all schools, including unaided private institutions, to admit at least 25 per cent students from the weaker sections. The court, however, ruled that the provisions are not applicable to minority institutions.

A Constitution Bench of Chief Justice R.M. Lodha and Justices A.K. Patnaik, Dipak Misra, S.J. Mukhopadhaya and Ibrahim Kalifulla held that the 93rd Constitution Amendment Act, 2005, inserting Clause 5 in Article 15 to provide for reservation to weaker sections in admissions to unaided private institutions, did not violate the basic structure of the Constitution.

The Bench said, “Article 15 (5) is consistent with the socialistic goals set out in the Preamble and the Directive Principles and to ensure the progress of the weaker sections… The Right to Education Act enacted, pursuant to Article 21A, to provide for admission of children to unaided private educational institutions [UPEIs] does not in any manner change or destroy the identity or abrogate the fundamental right of UPEIs guaranteed under Article 19(1)(g) [right to carry on any profession or trade].”

Writing the judgment, Justice Patnaik said, “We do not find any merit in the submission that Clause (5) of Article 15, insofar as it treats unaided private educational institutions and aided private institutions alike, it is violative of Article 14.”

On the applicability of the Right to Education Act to minority institutions, the Bench said: “If the 2009 Act is made applicable to minority schools, aided or unaided, the right of the minorities under Article 30(1) will be abrogated. Therefore, the 2009 Act, insofar as it is made applicable to minority schools referred to in clause (1) of Article 30 is ultra vires the Constitution. We are thus of the view that the majority judgment of this court in Society for Unaided Private Schools of Rajasthan vs. Union of India, insofar as it holds that the 2009 Act is applicable to aided minority schools, is not correct.”

“The minority character of an aided or unaided minority institution cannot be annihilated by admission of students from communities other than the minority community which has established the institution. Therefore, by excluding the minority institutions referred to in clause (1) of Article 30, the secular character of India is maintained and not destroyed,” the Bench added.

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