All private schools and government-aided minority institutions in the country will have to provide 25% reservation in entry-level admissions for children from the weaker sections of society, the Supreme Court said on Thursday.
The court said its order would take effect immediately but with most schools having completed admissions for the current academic year, poor students will be able to benefit from the judgment from 2013. Children admitted under this quota will be provided free education.
The court delivered this order upholding the Right to Education Act, 2009 and said denying a child the right to education amounted to depriving him or her of the right to live with dignity.
The verdict was delivered on a bunch of petitions by several private schools challenging the RTE provisions.
The RTE law would, however, not apply to unaided minority schools as they enjoy the right to establish and administer their institutions under Article 30 of the Constitution, a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice SH Kapadia said.
Welcoming the verdict, HRD minister Kapil Sibal said, “I am happy that now there is complete clarity... We must realise that education should be child-centric and not institution-centric.”
The majority view by the CJI and justice Swatanter Kumar held that the RTE law was meant to remove barriers, including financial and psychological ones, which children from the weaker sections face while seeking admission.
Justice KS Radhakrishnan, in his dissenting verdict, held that the quota would not apply to unaided private institutions or unaided minority schools.