Although, nearly three years have passed since the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009 came into force, the Maharashtra government is yet to notify officers authorised to accord sanctions for prosecuting schools accused of contravening provisions of the act.
This anomaly came to light during the hearing of a petition filed before the Bombay high court by Dabhol Educational Society from Dapoli in Ratnagiri
A division bench of justices AM Khanwilkar and AR Joshi last week restrained the local police from taking any coercive steps against members of the educational institute after finding that the government has not notified officers authorised to sanction its prosecution for contravening RTE provisions.
The educational institute approached the high court after the Dapoli police station registered an FIR against it on March 2, 2012 for contravention of section 18 (5) of the RTE Act.
Their counsel, Suresh Pakale, argued that no further steps could be taken on the basis of the FIR, since it had been registered without obtaining previous sanctions to prosecute members of the petitioner society. The lawyer pointed out that the government had not so far issued notification authorising specific officers to accord sanction to prosecute for breach of RTE provisions.
“Registration of the FIR at the instance of block education officer for offence punishable under section 18(5) of the act is therefore questionable,” the bench observed after additional public prosecutor PH Kantharia fairly accepted that the notification had not been issued so far, and admitted the petition for final hearing.
The court has, however, made it clear that the admission of the petition was not licence for the petitioner society to run the school in the absence of a valid recognition certificate, and that authorities would be free to take action against the society if it continues to run the school.