Maharashtra's policy of not letting civic schools open new Class 8 divisions within a 3-km radius of areas which already have schools was on Monday questioned before the high court.
The division bench of justice Naresh H Patil and justice AP Bhangale was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking that Class 8 sections be opened in civic schools, which currently cater to students only till Class 7.
The Right To Education Act (2009) has, however, expanded the definition of primary education to include Class 8.
“We understand if it is a private school proposal, but why apply the rule to the corporation?” the bench asked. “Why put restrictions on your own? If the corporation has sections till Class 8, poor children will study there.”
The civic body’s counsel, Anil Sakhare, told the bench that the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) had sent a proposal to the state government for the approval of 289 new Class 8 divisions from next year.
He said the approval was still pending as the state government had raised some queries, including the point about the 3-km radius policy.
“We need their approval because financial aid comes from them,” said Sakhare.
The pleader for the government told the court that many private schools are partly government-aided and students there enjoy many of the same benefits available to them in civic schools.
The corporation has already opened 100 new Class 8 sections for the current academic year.
“What is the reasonability behind (your) rule being applied to the local self-government?” the bench further asked. “You take instructions.”
The matter will next be heard after three weeks.