In a landmark judgement, the Madhya Pradesh high court on Friday ruled that the right to education included the children below six too.
The ruling expands the scope of the Article 3(1) of the RTE Act– 2009 which spells out that every child of six to 14 years shall have the right to free and compulsory education in a neighborhood school till the completion of elementary education.
Basing their argument on the RTE Act, many private schools of Indore filed a collective plea with the high court bench in September 2013 and pleaded that they were not entitled to admit underprivileged children below six years to their schools.
However, the single-bench of bench of Madhya Pradesh high court, headed by justice Prakash Shrivastava, rejected their petitions and said, "RTE is applicable to children belonging to pre-schooling age group too."
The court also directed the state government to form a committee and submit a report on reimbursement to be given to the private schools for extending the RTE to pre-schooling levels.
Sources said the judgment would have far-reaching implications on all private schools in the state as well as in the country. All big private institutions charge a huge capitation fee ranging up to a few lakhs for admitting a child to pre-school (nursery, LKG and UKG), making it practically impossible for the disadvantaged group to find a place for their ward.
Additional advocate general Manoj Dwivedi said, "The court's order will be applicable to all private schools, including pre-schools which impart education to kids below the age of six."
He said as per the Article 12(1) c of the RTE Act-2009, all schools shall admit children belonging to the weaker section and disadvantaged group to Class I to an extent of at least 25% of the strength of the class.
The act further says that it shall apply to the schools imparting pre-school education, he said.