Chennai: Striking at the very root of the fundamental right of underprivileged children to free and compulsory education, an association of private schools has decided not to admit students under the RTE Act, a PIL said. It also wants RTE admissions to be made into a transparent online single window exercise.
A vacation bench of Madras high court comprising Justice R Subbiah and Justice K Ravichandrabaabu issued notices, returnable in two weeks. The PIL filed by ChangeIndia said the Tamil Nadu Nursery, Primary, Matriculation, Higher Secondary and CBSE Schools’ Association has decided not to reserve 25% seats for underprivileged children as required under the RTE Act. The association said its members were forced to take the decision because the government was yet to reimburse 150 crore to schools which admitted students under the Act.
As per the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009, which came into force on April 1, 2010, schools must reserve 25% seats for students from weaker sections of society, free of cost. The fee would be reimbursed by the state and central governments annually.
In the PIL, ChangeIndia director A Narayanan said the resolution was unconstitutional and would amount to contempt of court as well. “There is an imminent danger of not only denial of admissions to students of disadvantaged groups at entry level classes this year, but such students admitted in previous years in so-called unaided non-profit schools may also be forced to either pay fees or drop out of schools,” he said.
In this regard, he said the Tamil Nadu government had written to the Centre on May 5 seeking disbursal of Rs 97.04 crore towards reimbursement of fees of students admitted under RTE.
Describing the association’s resolution as an open challenge to the authorities, Narayanan said the fundamental right of children should not be infringed upon at any cost. Charging school managers with taking advantage of the current situation, the PIL said any further delay in resolving the issue would result in managements while admitting students to seats meant for RTE beneficiaries. He also wanted the court to create a transparent online single window method to monitor and streamline RTE admissions. The PIL also wanted the court to make arrangements for free books and uniforms.
Source: The Times of India