[Right to Education] Kar HC | Reprimands ‘State’ action against establishing private schools; Compared ‘State’ action to a village priest chanting hymns without knowing its meanings

Karnataka High Court: Krishna S. Dixit J., issued a writ of certiorari to quash the impugned orders and sent back the issue under challenge to the state for reconsideration in a time-bound manner, failing which penalty to be imposed on defaulting state officials.

The facts of the case is such that the petitioner is a registered Educational Trust grieving against the denial of permission for establishing a School for imparting education at the level of 1st to 8th Std in English medium, vide Endorsement dated 31-05-2019 issued by the 2nd respondent-DDPI, it’s Revision Petition challenging the same having been negatived by the Government vide order dated 3-2-2020.

Counsel for the respondent-State submitted that the petitioner-Trust has not produced the conversion order of the land in question to the non-agricultural purpose. It was further submitted that the text of the letter dated 02-03-2018 only indicates conversion potential of the land and not the conversion as such to educational purpose. It was also submitted that there is noncompliance of Rule 3(4) of the Karnataka Educational Institutions (Classification, Regulation and Prescription of Curricula etc) (Amendment) Rules, 2018 that reads as

“Every private body of persons desiring to establish and maintain an educational institution imparting pre-primary, secondary and higher secondary education or any part thereof shall own or have on lease for a minimum period of thirty years following minimum contiguous extent of land for the building and playground of the educational institution with permission from relevant authorities to use for educational purposes:”

 Counsel for the petitioners- Trust submitted that land having been converted to the non-agricultural user (industrial) by the Tumkur District Deputy Commissioner’s order dated 23-5-1986, now figures in Yellow Zone in the statutory Revised Master Plan [2031], formulated under the provisions of Sections 9 & 14 of the Karnataka Town and Country Planning Act, 1961, hence there is no requirement of one more formal conversion order that otherwise was warranted in terms of Section 95 of the Karnataka Land Revenue Act, 1964. It was further submitted that the Tumkur Urban Development Authority constituted under the provisions of the Karnataka Urban Development Authorities Act, 1987, vide letter dated 20-7-2018 has specifically stated that the land in question can be used for educational purpose in view of its inclusion in the Approved Comprehensive Development Plan (Revised- II)-2031.

 The Court observed that the land under challenge is taken by the petitioner-Trust on lease basis for a period of thirty years vide registered Lease Deeds is not in dispute; the said land having been converted to industrial purpose way back in May 1986 has no longer retained its agricultural character; such a converted land can be put to residential use because of inclusion per se in the Comprehensive Development Plan and residential purpose necessarily includes educational ones.

The Court further observed that the available facilities in the school building in question certainly do not fall short of those obtaining in any Government schools in the locality infact what is lacking should be pointed out to the petitioner so that it can be improved in a time-bound way; that exercise strangely has not been undertaken and hence it leaves an impression that somehow the powers that be, are working to ensure that this school shall not come up, for an indefinite period of time and that the reasons for the same remaining inscrutable, give scope for assuming ulterior motives.

The Court relied on Bhartiya Sewa Samaj Trust v. Yogeshbhai Amblal Patel, (2012) 9 SCC 310 and emphasized on enactment of Right to Education Act, 2009 and 86th Amendment to the Constitution which introduced Article 21A and Article 51A (k) of Constitution of India to remark:

“….the importance of these new provisions can be understood by the observations of the Apex Court to the effect that without Article 21A, the other fundamental rights are rendered meaningless; without education, a citizen may never come to know of his other rights; since there is no corresponding constitutional right to higher education, the fundamental stress has to be on primary and elementary education, so that a proper foundation for higher education can be effectively laid..”

The Court further reprimanded and stated that the school education in the country inter alia suffers from the limitation of coverage; there are not enough number of government/public schools to cater to the societal need; a corresponding statutory duty is cast on the private schools to make the fundamental right to free education at the primary level, meaningful; if the applications for grant of permission to establish such schools are mindlessly declined, that would muffle the inner voice of the aforesaid constitutional amendments that are complemented by legislative instruments.

The Court before disposing off the petition observed that there exists a certain difference between a requisition for the grant of permission for founding a school and an application for the grant of excise license for opening a wine shop.

In view of the above, petition is allowed and impugned order stands quashed.[Nexgen Education Trust (Regd.) v. State of Karnataka,  2020 SCC OnLine Kar 1647, decided on 21-10-2020]


Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has put this story together

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