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Show data to justify reservation: SC

The Supreme Court on Thursday asked the Centre to produce data to quantify the weaker sections, as conceived in the year-old Right to Education (RTE) Act that mandates 25% reservation for children belonging to this category in every private school.

mumbai Updated: Apr 01, 2011 01:49 IST
Bhadra Sinha

The Supreme Court on Thursday asked the Centre to produce data to quantify the weaker sections, as conceived in the year-old Right to Education (RTE) Act that mandates 25% reservation for children belonging to this category in every private school.

A bench headed by Chief Justice SH Kapadia asked additional solicitor-general Indira Jaisingh to place the data before it by Monday. “You have evolved this concept, so you have to show us the data,” the bench told Jaisingh when she argued that it was for the schools to prove how the RTE provisions would burden them financially.

The bench is hearing a bunch of petitions filed by private schools challenging certain provisions.

The court’s query followed a brief submission by senior counsel Rajeev Dhawan, who represents an association of private schools from Rajasthan. Dhawan contended that the government had laid down certain provisions under the RTE Act without any data.

“The Act refers to certain specificities such as the weaker section, the fee difference and reimbursement by the government to private schools. How do you justify all this? There has to be a data to support it. You have to show that these are not restrictions and if they are, then they are reasonable ones in accordance with law. For this you have to produce the data before us,” the bench told Jaisingh.

Dhawan said: “How did the [government] fix the cap of 25% reservation for the weaker section? There has to be some basis for this.”

The other clauses, he added, were related to reimbursement of expenditure by private schools on students belonging to the weaker section.

This, Dhawan added, was not permissible having been decided to the contrary by a constitution bench in the TMA Pai case.