The legislation that makes free and compulsory education a fundamental right of a child has hit a legal hurdle.
Some private schools have challenged the Right to Free and Compulsory Education Act (RTE Act), saying it was an attempt by the government to abdicate responsibility of providing education to children and shifting the burden on private schools.
Arguing for the Society for Un-aided Private Schools, advocate Harish Salve told the Supreme Court on Monday that the Act was "unconstitutional" and "violated fundamental rights" of unaided private educational institutions.
A bench headed by Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan issued a notice to the Centre and also the human resource development ministry.
Along with free and compulsory education for children aged between 6 and 14, the Act also mandates 25 per cent reservation in all schools for children from weaker sections.
Salve said the Act violated the rights of private educational institutions and the maximum autonomy granted to them. The public interest litigation (PIL) recalled a Constitution Bench order, which ruled for maximum autonomy for private institutions.
The PIL also challenges certain sections of the Act that take away the right of schools, including minority institutions, to select students. The Act imposes absolute mandates upon the schools to admit students without screening them and restrains the authorities from verifying the proof of age, it says. The Act is silent on the fate of children between the age of 3 and 6 years, a crucial period for a child's education to commence.