Updated: March 4, 2021 8:47:40 am
THE DELHI High Court on Wednesday pulled up the Centre for not taking any decision regarding extension of free education under the RTE Act beyond class VIII for children belonging to disadvantaged and economically weaker sections. It also issued a notice to the Secretary of Department of School Education & Literacy under the HRD Ministry in a contempt petition seeking action against the officer for a “deliberate and intentional” disobedience of a judgment passed by the court in December 2019.
“So you will look over the children’s rights for two years. What is the meaning of active consideration? A decision is a decision. Why does it take so long,” asked Justice Najmi Waziri. “You are looking at children’s future.”
In 2019, the Centre had said before a division bench that the issue of extension of free education even after attaining the age of 14 or beyond Class VIII and up to Class XII is under its active consideration. The court in its order then had said that it expects that the decision regarding children of disadvantaged groups or economically weaker sections will be taken at the earliest.
Questioning the government over the progress made since the 2019 order, Justice Waziri on Wednesday observed, “Why should poverty come in the way of good education? Are you (government) short of money? The reason why I am asking so many questions is because as a court we have to be conscious of children’s rights, the right to education. Does the right to education stop at class VIII?”
In a petition by Social Jurist, a civil rights group, advocate Ashok Aggarwal told the court that the parents of such children are not in a financial position to pay hefty fees to unaided private schools in classes IX and onwards. “If a student has studied from nursery to class VIII in an English-medium unaided private school and is asked to go to government school in class IX and onwards, great prejudice would be caused to such students for more than one reasons,” the petition said.
Under the RTE Act, private schools have to reserve 25 per cent seats for students belonging to economically weaker section and disadvantaged groups. However, the benefit is limited up to class VIII.
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