The Gujarat High Court on Tuesday issued a notice to the state government over a petition challenging the validity of a right to education rule which allows five-year-old children to seek admission in Class I. A division bench of Chief Justice R Subhash Reddy and Justice V M Pancholi issued the notice and will hear the matter within three weeks.
The petition, filed by city-based Udgam School of Children, challenged the validity of rule 3(1) of the Gujarat Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Rule, which enables children who have completed five years of age to get admission in Class I. The rules framed by the state are based on the Central RTE Act. According to the petition, the Centre’s RTE Act says that children, who have completed six years of age, can seek admissions in Class I, but the state’s rule says that a child, who has completed five years on June 1, can apply.
The school challenged it saying that it makes parents put “underage” children get admitted in schools. The petitioner said that when the Act is clear about the age limit, a state government rule cannot provide for anything beyond the scope of the Act. The school has further said that every school should have the right to determine the policy as to how it should function, more particularly, at what age it should provide admission and in which standard.
The petitioner said that it has received application for admission under the RTE for five children, who are below six years of age. It also said that the flexibility on age in the RTE Rule will encourage parents to seek admission for children “below the right age”.
The rule 3(1) of Gujarat RTE Rule states, “No elementary school shall normally admit a child, who has not completed 6 years of age on the date of admission. However, if a child is desirous to be admitted on completion of 5 years of age, he shall be admitted, provided he has completed 5 years of age as on June 1 of that year.”