Law made Easy

Under the Constitution


This right guarantees free and compulsory education for children between the age of 6 to 14 years in India under Article 21A of the Constitution of India.

  • Free education’ means that no child, other than a child who has been admitted by his or her parents to a school, shall be asked to pay any kind of fee/charges/expenses which may prevent him or her from pursuing and completing elementary education.
  • Compulsory education’ casts an obligation on the appropriate Government and local authorities to provide and ensure admission, attendance and completion of elementary education by all children in the 6-14 age groups.

Under the Right to Education Act, 2009


Focus:

  • Providing elementary education to a child (6-14 years) who does not/could not go to school. Such child to be admitted in age appropriate class and has the right to receive special training.
  • Seeks to provide children right to seek transfer from a government or govt. aided school to another such school in order to complete elementary education. Such child also has right to immediately seek a transfer certificate (TC).
  • Mandates non-minority private unaided schools to reserve at least 25% of their entry level seats for children belonging disadvantaged sections to create a more integrated and inclusive schooling system.
  • Mandates the appropriate government and local authorities to provide for children’s access to elementary schools within the defined area or limits of the neighbourhood.
  • Lays down the responsibilities of the State and Central government for carrying out provisions of the act.
  • Constitution of a School Management Committee (SMC). The role of this committee to manage, monitor and support a school in its functions.
  • Indicates that within 3 years from the date of commencement of the act, the appropriate government and local authority shall insure that the Pupil Teacher Ratio (PTR) is maintained in each school.

Ensures:

  • Compulsory and free education for all.
  • Special provision for special classes.
  • Minimum standards.
  • Admission for all.
  • Quality and quantity of teaching.
  • All-round development.
  • By the people, for the children.

Objectives:

  • Ensure that every child below the age of 14 gets free and compulsory education.
  • Curb the problem of illiteracy.

Ensure personal growth and in turn growth of the country.


This Article is a part of the ‘Know Your Rights’ series by Centre for Clinical Legal Education, Maharashtra National Law University, Mumbai 

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

Central Information Commission (CIC): Y.K. Sinha (Information Commissioner) addressed an RTI application filed seeking the following information:

  1. Names of students of Class 8th and 12th students who were given admission under EWS Quota for the session 2017-18. Provide information in detail.
  2. Names of Class 12th students who fall under EWS Quota in the final year.
  3. Provide the names of parents/Guardians of Class 8th and 12th students who were given admission under EWS Quota in the year 2017-18.
  4. Provide copies income certificates submitted by Class 8th and 12th students who were enrolled under EWS Quota in the year 2017-18?

Applicant on being dissatisfied with the response and aggrieved with the same approached the Commission with the instant second appeal.

Respondents stated that data about online registration of students is available since the year 2018-19, while the appellant seeks information pertaining to the academic year 2017- 18, hence the information could not be readily provided.

He further explained that before the implementation of the Right to Education Act, admissions to students from economically weaker sections were given under the freeship quota. The registration of students under EWS quota is not done at the stage of class 8 or 12, hence data sought by the appellant is not readily available.

Hence, in view of the above, the information sought by the appellant could not be readily provided.

Decision

Commission noted that the reply of the respondent that information about admissions under EWS[Economically Weaker Section] quota is not available in their office is totally unacceptable.

The respondent being the regulatory authority of all educational institutions cannot remain oblivious nor avoid questions relating to such crucial information which involves the implementation of the Right to Education Act.

Further, the commission added that information about names and particulars of students is personal information held by the school in a fiduciary capacity disclosure of which would invade the privacy of the concerned children.

RTE Act makes education a fundamental right of every child between the ages of 6 and 14 and specifies minimum norms in elementary schools, requiring all private schools(except the minority institutions) to reserve 25% of seats for children belonging to the economically weaker section of society.

Respondent was directed to provide information about the total number of students, if any, admitted under EWS quota in Class 8 and Class 12 for the academic year 2017-18.

Appeal was disposed of in the above terms.[Anita Chaudhary v. PIO, DDE-ZONE II, Dte, of Education, 2020 SCC OnLine CIC 731, decided on 09-06-2020]

Hot Off The PressNews

The Delhi Government has issued a new circular dated 16.07.20 wherein they have shared  details regarding SMCs being reconstituted by a draw of lots. This circular has added information regarding tenure of such constituted SMCs, which was missing from the previous circular dated 01.07.20. The new circular states that these SMCs are being re-constituted only until elections can be held after the situation returns to normalcy. This signals a clear significant shift in the stance of Delhi Government in the aftermath of writ petition[1] filed in the Delhi High Court where in the Delhi Government had submitted that the SMCs being constituted by a draw of lots was only a stopgap arrangement

In the abovementioned petition, the petitioners had challenged the circular dated 1.07.2020[2] and prayed that the circular be quashed. The petitioners argued that the circular violated the spirit of the act as it didn’t allow parents to participate in the process of choosing who will represent them in SMCs. They contended  that extending tenure of the previous SMCs was a better option than reconstituting SMCs through a draw of lots. They gave examples of other states where tenure of SMCs were extended. The counsel for the petitioner, Garima Sharma, argued that it was a better option since members of existing SMCs already had experience of working in a SMC.

Despite the fact that the Delhi Government has been holding elections since RTE was implemented, the respondents submitted that there was no mandate to hold elections and that the Government had issued the impugned circular only as a stopgap arrangement.

The order released by the Delhi High Court on 14.07.20 has recorded the Delhi Government submitting in court  that the impugned circular has been issued “only as a stopgap arrangement and the SMCs so constituted by following the procedure as laid down in the impugned Circular shall continue till elections can be held after normalcy returns.” A fact that didn’t find any mention in the impugned circular dated 01.07.20.

The circular calls upon the head of schools to complete the reconstitution process of the SMCs through a draw of lots by the 21st of July, 2020.


[1] Indra v. Government of NCT of Delhi, Writ Petition (C) No. 4076 of 2020, dated 13-07-2020

[2]  http://www.edudel.nic.in/upload/upload_2017_18/117_129_dt_01072020.PDF

Case BriefsCOVID 19High Courts

Delhi High Court: Naveen Chawla, J. in an order dated 13th July, 2020 has refused to interdict a Delhi government circular which directed reconstitution of School Management Committees through a draw of lots instead of holding elections.The petitioners had challenged the circular dated 1.07.2020 and prayed that the circular be squashed. The petitioners argued that extending tenure of the previous SMCs was a better option than reconstituting SMCs through a draw of lots. They gave examples of other states where tenure of SMCs were extended. The counsel for the petitioner argued that it was a better option since members of existing SMCs already had experience of working.

Despite the fact that the Delhi Government has been holding elections since RTE was implemented, the respondents submitted that there was no mandate to hold elections and that the Government had issued the impugned circular only as a stopgap arrangement. The Circular shall continue till elections can be held after normalcy returns. The Counsel for the respondent government also mentioned that the petitioners had concealed that they have applied under the circular. The petitioners submitted that it was a bonafide mistake.

After listening to arguments from both sides, the Court stated that since elections cannot be held because of COVID 19, such extraordinary situations would require certain extraordinary measures to be taken by the respondents. The Court noted that respondents seem to have chosen one of the various alternatives that were available. With online classes for the Government schools having started there is an urgent need for the constitution of the SMCs.  The Court did not deem it fit to interdict the process started by the respondents at the present stage.and listed the matter for October 21st.

The order has recorded the government submitting in court that the impugned circular has been issued “only as a stopgap arrangement and the SMCs so constituted by following the procedure as laid down in the impugned Circular shall continue till elections can be held after normalcy returns.” A fact that didn’t find any mention in the impugned circular dated 01.07.20.

[Indra v. Government of NCT of Delhi, Writ Petition (C) No. 4076 of 2020, order dated 13-07-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: In a writ petition filed to challenge a Delhi Government Circular which laid down arbitrary instructions to reconstitute the School Management Committee through a draw of lots instead of elections, a bench comprising of Navin Chawla, J. expressing concerns on the matter, has relisted the matter to be heard on Monday, the 13th of July, 2020. The draw of lots for the School Management Committees was to be held by 11th July which now stands postponed till any order is passed on the date of the next hearing.

The School Management Committees (SMCs) are constituted under Section 21 of the Right to Education Act, 2009 and consist mainly of elected parents of the school students. They perform various functions such as monitoring working of school, preparing school development plans, monitoring utilization of funds and perform other functions as prescribed.

On 1st July, the Delhi Government had issued a circular by which SMCs were to be reconstituted through a draw of lots instead of elections right in the middle of the pandemic. Only a week’s time was given to file nominations which could only be filed online. The petitioners contested the circular, praying that the circular be quashed and argued that the reconstitution of SMCs should  be postponed by at least 6 months and/or when normalcy is restored. The petitioner submitted to the Court  that the outbreak of the virus was not a reasonable explanation for adopting the lottery system for constituting SMCs which is otherwise an elected body. They argued that it cannot be the case that the respondents were left with no option but to violate the law.The petitioners drew comparison with the decision of the Punjab Government, which has issued a circular dated 04.06.2020[1] that extended the tenure of the current SMC till 30.09.2020 and postponed the reconstitution due to the circumstances arising out of COVID-19.

They had also prayed that whenever SMCs are reconstituted, it should be through elections, with an appropriate time given to file nominations and with the option to file nominations offline. The next hearing on this matter will be on Monday, 13th July.

[Indra v. Government of NCT of Delhi, Writ Petition (C) No. 4076 of 2020, dated 10-07-2020]


Read the details of the petition here

[1] Circular No. 17/6-2018 Services(2)/224-26

Hot Off The PressNews

Delhi High Court: A group of parents of government school students of Delhi have filed a writ petition before the Delhi High Court, challenging the Delhi Government circular which has laid out instructions to reconstitute School Management Committees (SMCs). The School Management Committees constituted under Section 21 of the Right to Education Act, 2009 perform various functions including formulation of a School Development Plan which is the basis of plans and grants which are made by the local authorities to the School. The petitioners allege that the Government has arbitrarily issued instructions for the reconstitution of School Management Committees by way of online draw of lots. This, the petitioners allege, is contrary to the spirit of the Right to Education Act, 2009  which mandates parent-guardian members to be elected and constitute the SMC’s through active participation of the community. The petition asserts that choosing parent representatives by a process which does not give any say to the very parents that these representatives will represent is undemocratic

 

Other objections filed by the petitioners against this government circular are that only a seven day window has been given to file nominations without any prior effort to spread awareness about the nomination process and roles and responsibilities of the SMC, thereby leaving many parent members excluded from the nomination process. Secondly, the nomination process is online, which excludes those who don’t have access to internet facilities. The petitioners have questioned the need to reconstitute the SMCs in the middle of a pandemic.The timing of this circular excludes deeply vulnerable groups, those who are shifting to government schools from private schools because of loss of livelihood and others affected by the pandemic for various reasons.

 

The petitioners have prayed for the following:

  • Reconstitution of SMCs should be postponed during the pandemic and the tenure of the current SMCs should be extended as they are better equipped to support children/ school at this time compared to newly constituted committees which wouldn’t have gone through any training.
  • SMC members should be elected and not selected through draw of lots
  • Whenever elections are conducted the period of filing nominations should be extended beyond 7 days
  • Whenever elections are conducted, offline process of filing nominations should be available
  • Whenever elections are conducted measures should be taken to spread awareness of SMC elections

Also read:

Circular instructing reconstitution of School Management Committees by way of online draw of lots

Note On The Gaps In Current SMC Constitution Circular_

Petition Challenging Delhi Circular

 

 

 

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Karnataka High Court: While relying upon the Bombay High Court decision in Vikhe Patil Foundation’s Vikhe Patil Memorial School v. Union of India, 2015 SCC OnLine Bom 4732, the Single Bench of S. Sujatha, J. has held that the compulsory admission of minimum 25% in Class-I, or pre-school (LKG) of the children belonging to disadvantageous section and the simultaneous entry to both levels is within the framework of the Right to Education Act.

Section 12(1)(c) of the RTE Act provides that a school specified in Section (2)(n)(iii) and (iv), shall admit in class-I, at least 25% of the strength of that class, children belonging to disadvantageous section. The Proviso appended thereto reads: “provided further that where a school imparts pre-school education, clause (c) shall apply for admission to such pre-school education.”

A Karnataka Government Order further prescribed that in schools imparting pre-primary education, and having higher strengths in Class-I as compared to LKG, total number of reserved seats shall be 25% of strength in class-I, where number of seats reserved for LKG shall be 25% of strength of LKG, and for Class-I shall be the difference between total number of reserved seats and seats reserved for LKG. Petitioners contended that the proviso to a section carves out an exception and it cannot be used to import into the enacting part something which is not there. Thus, the modification of the entry level mentioned in Section 12(1)(c) i.e. Class I to pre-primary was illegal. In arguendo, it was submitted that in schools imparting pre-primary education there was only one entry level at LKG, and State Government could not divide the reserved seats between class-I and LKG.

The Court noted that the use of the word ‘further’ in the proviso indicated the legislative intent of Parliament to read the provision in addition to clause (c), not as an exception, and thus there was no illegality therein. The Court further observed that many schools had tried to evade admissions under the RTE by starting pre-primary in their schools with substantially lower strength than that of Class-I. Hence, the determination of the number of reserved seats as per the government order was justifiable. The writ petitions were accordingly dismissed. [Soujanya Patel Trust v. State of Karnataka, 2017 SCC OnLine Kar 1001, decided on  17-4-2017]