The human resource development ministry has brushed aside objections raised by senior law ministry officials to allow Navodaya Vidyalayas to continue admission tests, using support it has received from the country's top law officer.
Armed with a favourable legal opinion from the attorney general (AG), the HRD ministry dismissed concerns raised by law ministry officials at a meeting on Wednesday, government sources have confirmed to HT.
Top law ministry officials and the AG have expressed divergent opinions on the matter, but the HRD ministry cited the top law officer's opinion, reportedly ratified by law minister M Veerappa Moily, to stick to its view.
The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Educatio — popularly referred to as the Right to Education (RTE) Act — specifically bars schools from using any method other than random selection to admit students. It also requires schools to admit economically weak students from the neighbourhood to 25% seats.
This clause has left the HRD ministry in a dilemma for months now because the more than 500 Navodaya Vidyalayas it runs admit students through a national entrance test. These schools are aimed at tapping intelligent rural children.
The HRD ministry sought the view of the law ministry, former Chief Justice of India AS Anand and the AG. Both Justice Anand and the AG have said Navodaya Vidyalayas are a separate class of schools that do not need specific exemption under the RTE Act to continue with their admission tests.
Law ministry officials, however, argued that the Act ought to be amended instead of relying on interpretations.