The Supreme Court has declined to entertain petitions seeking a review of its verdict upholding the constitutional validity of the right to education act that mandates 25 percent quota for poor students in private schools.
An apex court bench of Chief Justice S.H. Kapadia, Justice K.S. Radhakrishnan and Justice Swatanter Kumar said: “The review petitions are dismissed.” The order, passed the day before, was made available Wednesday.
The apex court by its April 12 verdict held that the provision of 25 percent allocation of seats for poor students would apply to all unaided schools, including minority institutions receiving government aid or grants to meet whole or part of their expenses.
Justice Radhakrishnan, in a separate judgment, had, however, said that the mandate under the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 providing for reservation of seats was not constitutionally valid.
He said none of the unaided schools, including minority institutions, could be compelled to earmark 25 percent seats in their institutions for the weaker sections.
Chief Justice Kapadia and Justice Swatanter Kumar differed with Justice Radhakrishnan on the allocation of 25 percent seats to poor students in unaided non-minority and minority institution.
The three judges, however, upheld the constitutional validity of the right to education law.
Stating that the admissions already made would not be disturbed, the court had said that the 25 percent reservation for students from the weaker sections would become effective from April 12, the day it was pronounced.
Chief Justice Kapadia, who pronounced the majority judgment, said: “It is not in dispute that education is a recognised head of charity. Therefore, if an educational institution goes beyond charity into commercialisation, it would not be entitled to protection of Article 19(1)(g).”
The Article 19(1)(g) of the constitution deals with a citizen’s right to practise any profession or to carry on any occupation.
“This is where the paradox comes in. If education is an activity which is charitable, could the unaided non-minority educational institution contend that the intake of 25 percent children belonging to weaker sections and disadvantaged groups only in Class 1 as provided for in Section 12(1)(c) would constitute violation of Article 19(1)(g),” the majority judgment had said.
Justice Radhakrishnan, while disagreeing with the majority judgment, said: “No distinction or difference can be drawn between unaided minority and non-minority schools with regard to appropriation of quota by the state or its reservation policy under Section 12(1)(c) of the act.”