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Now, SC takes up RTE cause

delhi Updated: Feb 10, 2011 00:28 IST
Satya Prakash

After Right to Food, the Supreme Court has taken up the issue of Right to Education to ensure that every government-run school in India has requisite number of teachers, potable water, toilets, safe building and other such facilities for students.

A bench headed by justice Dalveer Bhandari on Tuesday ordered all the district collectors and magistrates to submit a report in this regard within four weeks to the chief secretary/ administrator of their respective state/union territory, who in turn have been directed to file a comprehensive affidavit before it within six weeks.

Justice Bhandari has issued a series of direction for implementation of right to food and pulled up government agencies for rotting of huge quantity of foodgrains even as the poor starved.

But the government had opposed it saying foodgrains bought for a price could not be distributed for free as the poor and the needy were already getting it at subsidised rates.

The court wanted to have comprehensive information regarding basic facilities such as potable/drinking water, separate toilets for boys and girls, electricity, boundary walls, mid-day meal facility and availability of requisite number of teachers in primary schools.

"Free and compulsory education has now become a fundamental right under Article 21-A of the Constitution of India and in order to implement this fundamental right of the children, this exercise is absolutely imperative," the bench, which also included justice AK Ganguly, said posting the matter for further hearing on March 29, 2011.

The Right to Education Act guarantees free and compulsory education to very child between the age group of six and 14.

The court was hearing a PIL filed in 2004 by Environment and Consumer Protection Foundation highlighting the plight of government-run schools in Delhi and lack of basic facilities such as drinking water, toilets and dilapidated condition of some school buildings.

Agreeing with petitioner’s counsel Ravindra Bana that "Delhi alone is not India", the apex court had later widened the ambit of the petition and issued notices to all states and union territories seeking details of facilities available in government-run schools.