The High Court of Karnataka on Friday upheld the new Right to Education (RTE) rule that prescribes that admission to a private unaided school under the RTE quota will be allowed only if there is no aided private school or a school established by the government or local authorities in the neighbourhood.
A Division Bench comprising Justice L. Narayana Swamy and Justice P.S. Dinesh Kumar passed the order while rejecting PIL petitions filed by Education Rights Trust, an NGO, and several students.
The petitioners had contended that the recently amended Rule 4(7) of the Karnataka RTE Rules is contrary to the objective of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act (or RTE Act). They sought a direction to the State to continue admission under 25% RTE quota in private unaided schools even government or aided schools exist in the neighbourhood.
“Education under Article 21A is a fundamental right, but the petitioners or such students have no right to seek admission only to private unaided schools as long if government schools, local authorities’ schools or aided schools are available,” the Bench said. “When government schools exist, the State need not reimburse the cost or expenditure of the child. If the parents want to admit their child to private unaided schools, it is their decision, for which the government is not liable or accountable,” it said, pointing out that the amended rule was neither unconstitutional nor arbitrary and did not contravene any right envisaged.
Describing the petitioners’ stand as “fallacious”, the Bench said the “functioning of schools established by the governme nt or local authorities and aided schools would be at stake” if such a plea is allowed. Noting that the government had reimbursed around ₹1,300 crore to private unaided schools between 2012-13 and 2019 for admissions under RTE quota, the Bench accepted the State’s contention that an obligation to allow admission to unaided schools and reimburse fees would arise only in the absence of government schools in the locality.