The State government on Wednesday justified its action of fixing income limit of Rs. 3.5 lakh a year to claim seats in private schools under the weaker section category as per the provisions of the Right to Education (RTE) Act.
The government filed an affidavit in this regard before the Karnataka High Court in connection with a public interest litigation (PIL) petition, filed by K. Nagesh and others, complaining that this limit would only allow children from the creamy layer to seek admission under the category of weaker section.
However, the government claimed that the concept of creamy layer does not apply to children belonging to the Scheduled Caste (SC) and the Scheduled Tribe (ST) and castes under Category I, and this concept applies to those belonging to castes in categories IIA, IIB, IIIA and IIIB.
Further, the government contended that Rs. 3.5 lakh a year would work out to Rs. 5,833.33 per person a month for an average family of five persons for 12 months. Daily wage for 25 days works out to be Rs. 233.33 a day, which is more or less equal to the daily wage of agricultural labourers and construction labourers in the State. The affidavit pointed out that both husband and wife and adult children engage in work to maintain family and hence the ceiling fixed cannot be said to be high, the government said.
Pointing out that rental values had gone up in urban areas and so had the prices of essential commodities, the government justified fixing the income limit of Rs. 29,166.66 a month [Rs. 3.5 lakh a year] for a family of five persons.
The government also said there would not be any discrimination against the poor as admission to private schools would be made through a draw of lottery in front of a group of parents if the number of students seeking admission under the RTE Act exceeds the number of seats [25 per cent of the total seats] earmarked. Any other mode of selection like oral testing, interview with parents, would give rise to confusion, the government claimed.
A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Vikramajit Sen and Justice B.V. Nagarathna, before which the petition came up for hearing, adjourned the hearing to January 3, 2013.
Rs. 3.5 lakh is the annual income limit to claim seat in a private school under the category