‘Can’t enforce RTE unconditionally on pvt. schools’

HC says petitioner, whose name was struck off the rolls for non-payment of fees, is free to take admission in a government school

June 13, 2022 01:45 am | Updated 01:45 am IST - NEW DELHI:

The court called the plea ‘untenable’ as it observed that a private unaided school has to meet all its expenses from its own resources.

The court called the plea ‘untenable’ as it observed that a private unaided school has to meet all its expenses from its own resources. | Photo Credit: File Photo

The provisions of the Right To Education (RTE) Act cannot be unconditionally enforced on a private unaided school, the Delhi High Court has observed.

A Bench of Acting Chief Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Sachin Datta made the remarks while rejecting a plea challenging certain provisions of the Delhi School Education Rules, 1973.

Divyam Bhateja, a Class VI student in Bhai Parmanand Vidya Mandir here, was on February 11, 2022, told by the school that her name had been struck off the rolls over non-payment of fees since June 2021.

‘Father lost job’

Bhateja, in her plea through advocate Khagesh B. Jha, had stated that she was paying the school fees regularly until her father, working with a private firm as an accountant, lost his job during the COVID-19 pandemic.

She had challenged Rules 35 and 167 of Delhi School Education Rules, 1973 against the right of children to free and compulsory education under the RTE Act.

Rule 35 provides for striking a student off the rolls on account of non-payment of fees and other dues for 20 days after the last day for payment. Rule 167 permits a school to strike off the name of a student for non-payment of fees and contributions.

The High Court noted that the Delhi School Education Rules were enacted for better organisation and development of school education in the Capital. The very purpose of this enactment is to improve the standard and management of school education, it said.

Right to education

The RTE Act was enacted in 2009 to provide for free and compulsory education to all children between the ages of 6-14 years.

“Given the independent and distinct framework of Delhi School Education Act and the Rules framed thereunder, and the RTE Act and the rules framed thereunder, there can be no question of Rules 35 and 167 of Delhi School Education Rules impinging upon the operation of the RTE Act,” the High Court observed.

“The RTE Act guarantees the right to education. However, it nowhere provides that the said right can be unconditionally enforced against a private unaided school,” the court also said.

“The petitioner (minor Bhateja) is free to take admission in a government school if he cannot afford to pay the fee of the private unaided school. If he is entitled to admission in the EWS category, he may apply under that category to seek a waiver of the school fee,” the court observed.

The Delhi High Court also remarked, “If the claim of the petitioner were to be allowed, if would mean that even private unaided schools would not be able to charge any fee even though they have to meet all their expenses from their own resources and accretions. This is completely untenable.”

“In the light of the aforesaid position, we reject the challenge to the vires of Rules 35 and 167 of the Delhi School Education Rules, 1973,” the High Court ordered.

It, further, clarified that the other prayers made by Bhateja, such as her challenge to her school striking off her name from the rolls, would be decided by another bench of the High Court.

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