Schools cannot selectively apply provisions of the RTE (Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education) Act, 2009, said the Bombay high court (HC) on Monday.
The HC’s observation comes after a prestigious Dadar school had refused to admit a child selected for admission under the RTE quota only on the ground that the child stays beyond one kilometre from the school. It then asked the school to furnish the list of students admitted by it in this academic year.
The division bench of Chief Justice Manjula Chellur and Justice MS Sonak was hearing a petition filed by Dharavi resident Riyaz Siddhiqui complaining that even though his child had been selected for admission to Balmohan Vidyamandir at Shivaji Park in Dadar for admission to junior kindergarten on the basis of online lottery drawn by state, the school refused to admit his child.
His lawyer, advocate Pushpalata Kamble, said that the petitioner had filled an online admission form in March 2016 based on which his child was selected for admission. The petitioner was then asked to submit all the original documents by July 19. Siddhiqui said he submitted all the requisite documents before the deadline, but failed to get any response.
His petition states that he visited the school several times, but the management did not respond to his pleas, nor did his complaints lodged with the education inspector and deputy director of education bear any fruits, thus compelling him to approach the HC.
Responding to the petition, advocate Deepa Chavan, who represents the school, pointed out that under provisions of the RTE Act, a child can seek admission to a school in his neighbourhood that falls within a distance of one kilometre from his residence. In this case, the child resides at Dharavi and the school is located at Dadar, which is more than four kilometres away from his residence, said Chavan
The submission evoked sharp reaction from the judges. “Do you mean that none of the children admitted by the school this year stay beyond the distance of one kilometre from the school?” the chief justice sought to know from the school’s lawyer.
The bench then directed the school to file an affidavit stating that it has not admitted any student residing beyond the distance of one kilometre from the school. Besides, the school has been directed to tender the list of all the students admitted by it to junior kindergarten this year along with the distance of their respective residences from the schools.
The bench has now posted the petition for further hearing on October 10.