East Delhi MP Maheish Girri has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to bring minority educational institutions, including madrasas, within the ambit of the Right to Education (RTE) Act. In his letter, Girri argued that since minority institutions do not come under the Act, financially backward students are denied the opportunity to study.
Section 12(1) of the Act mandates that 25 per cent of the strength of each entry-level class in the state board, government-aided schools should be reserved for children belonging to weaker sections and disadvantaged students. This, however, doesn’t apply to unaided minority schools: madrasas, Vedic pathshalas and education institutions primarily imparting religious instruction.
In July, the MP had introduced a private member’s Bill in Parliament to amend Clause 5 of Article 15 of the Constitution. The amendment to Article 15 — pertaining to prohibition of discrimination — was amended by the clause to “exclude minority educational institutions”.
The 2006 amendment had stated that nothing shall prevent the state from making special provisions for the advancement of any socially and educationally backward class or for SCs, STs as far as special provisions for admission to any educational institution are concerned, “other than the minority educational institutions”.
The BJP has long since argued that excluding “minority educational institutions” was discriminatory, although in 2014, the Supreme Court had ruled that the RTE Act would not be applicable to aided or unaided minority schools. Such schools wouldn’t be obligated to reserve 25 per cent seats for children from weaker sections.
BJP sources said that Girri had wanted to introduce the Bill in July 2016 but didn’t. Article 15(5), the source added, needed to be amended with a constitutional amendment and needed the nod of both Houses.
“This isn’t a matter of religion or any one community. But when you have the Right to Education Act, excluding certain minority institutions from its ambit amounts to discrimination and prevents students from getting equal rights,” Girri told The Indian Express.
“This is for all minority institutions, not just madrasas but all educational institutions which could potentially benefit from RTE.”