SC preserves constitutional validity of RTE Act 2009
The Supreme Court upheld the constitutional validity of the Right to Education (RTE) Act, 2009.
What does RTE mandates?
By a majority view, a three-judge bench of Chief Justice S H Kapadia and justices K S Radhakrishnan and Swantanter Kumar held that the RTE Act 2009 mandates 25% free seats to the poor in government and private unaided schools except unaided private minority schools uniformly in India (except the state of Jammu & Kashmir). RTE Act 2009 is NOT applicable to the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Upholding the provisions of the law, the Supreme Court held the impugned act should be construed as “child specific”.
Will Supreme Court’s ruling have a retrospective effect?
NO. The Supreme Court clarified that its judgement will come into force from April 12, 2012 and, thus it will not apply to admissions granted after the enactment of the legislation i.e. the judgement will only have a prospective affect and not retrospective affect.
What was the issue all about?
Via introduction of Article 21(A) in the Constitution, the law was brought which held that the state shall provide free and compulsory education to all children between 6 and 14 years in such a manner as the state may, by law, determine.
Thereafter, a lot of petitions were filed by private unaided institutions which had argued that the RTE Act violates the rights of private educational institutions under Article 19(1) (g) which provides autonomy to private managements to run their institutions without governmental intervention. The petitions had argued that the RTE Act was “unconstitutional” and “violative” of fundamental rights.
To this the Centre defended the law, holding that it was directed at elating the socially and economically weaker sections of the society. The Centre had stressed the need to delink merit and talent from social and economic differences amongst various sections of society and held that, the Act calls for “moving towards composite classrooms with children from diverse backgrounds, rather than homogeneous and exclusivist schools”.