The Centre on Monday asserted before the Supreme Court that the Right to Education Act (RTE) applied to private unaided schools, including minority schools and it did not violate any rulings of the top court.
"The provisions… regarding grant of admission by private unaided schools, to the extent of at least 25% of the strength of class-I to children belonging to weaker section and disadvantaged group in the neighbourhood and provide free and compulsory elementary education till its completion, in no way curtails the right or autonomy of the private unaided institutions," the HRD ministry said in an affidavit.
The affidavit has been filed in response to a petition filed by Independent Schools' Federation of India challenging the Constitutional validity of inclusion of unaided schools in RTE on the ground that it violated their right to practise any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade or business under Article 19(1)(g).
Minority schools are also opposing their inclusion in the Act on the ground that it violated their right to establish and administer educational institutions under Article 30 of the Constitution.
"The Act is anchored in the belief that values of equality, social justice and democracy and the creation of a just society can be achieved only through provision of inclusive elementary education to all," the affidavit sworn by department of school education and literacy director Vikram Sahay said.
The government said even before the enactment of the RTE, unaided schools had been providing free education to children belonging to economically weaker section.
It gave the example of Delhi, where all unaided schools were required to admit 15% children from the economically weaker section and provide them free education.
The Delhi HC had upheld the provision, it added.
The government said in the original RTE Bill, private unaided schools were not included but the government reversed it to include them on the recommendations of a parliamentary standing committee and the Law Commission.