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SC: States should include HIV+ students under Right to Education

The SC has come to the aid of underprivileged HIV-affected students and has asked state governments to consider including them in the disadvantaged group under the Right to Education law.

education Updated: May 01, 2017 10:31 IST
Bhadra Sinha
The Supreme Court has given hope to HIV-positive students by asking state governments to consider including them in the disadvantaged group under the Right to Education law  for free and compulsory education to kids up to 14 years
The Supreme Court has given hope to HIV-positive students by asking state governments to consider including them in the disadvantaged group under the Right to Education law for free and compulsory education to kids up to 14 years(REUTERS)

The Supreme Court has asked state governments to consider issuing a notification to include HIV-affected children in the disadvantaged group under the Right to Education law that provides for free and compulsory education to kids up to 14 years.

“States need to bring out a notification within four weeks. Those states which are not willing to come out with the notification will have to spell out the reasons in an affidavit as to why they are considering not to do so”, the bench headed by Chief Justice JS Khehar said on Friday.

The court order came on a petition filed by NGO Naz Foundation whose lawyer, Anand Grover, impressed upon the bench that children living or affected by HIV get segregated and are compelled to leave schools.

Right to Education (RTE), 2009 entitles children aged between 6 and 14 from disadvantaged groups to avail free and compulsory education. Under the law all schools, including private ones, are required to reserve 25% of their seats at the entry level for the disadvantaged group of society. Usually the children bracketed in this category belong to the economically weaker sections.

“We are of a prima facie view that the state governments need to consider issuance of notification to include children living with or affected by HIV as belonging to disadvantaged group under the provisions of the Right to Education Act,” the bench said. The Centre was directed to communicate the order to all the secretaries concerned within a week.

Naz Foundation’s lawyer Grover submitted that there was zero risk of transmission of the disease and yet the children were being discriminated against. He claimed there was poor implementation of the law which gives protection to such children.

In its plea Naz Foundation said guidelines should be framed to prevent discrimination of HIV-affected students and even those whose parents suffer from the disease. Their inclusion in the disadvantaged group would ensure they get education without any prejudice.