Justice Sudhir Mittal observed that such a practice has the tendency of creating a feeling of inferiority amongst children securing less marks.
The Court was considering a writ petition filed by a parent of a student who alleged that in the school his child studies, from Class VI onwards, the children are being classified into sections on the basis of marks secured in the previous examination. The petitioners contended that the practice of grouping students into sections based on their marks at the elementary level is a discriminatory practice and it is violative of Article 14 of the Constitution of India.
Referring to Article 21-A of the Constitution and provisions of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009, the bench observed that institutions providing elementary education are bound to create a free and open atmosphere that promotes a sense of equality and any action which promotes inequality cannot be permitted
By virtue of Article 21-A of the Constitution of India, elementary education is a fundamental right. Thus, it is the duty of the State to provide free and compulsory elementary education. Education is not bookish knowledge alone. It is an inclusive concept, the object being all round development of children. It encompasses moral as well as mental development. Thus, a child is entitled to an atmosphere conducive to all round development. Necessarily, stimuli which impair such development, have to be kept out. It is the duty of a school to ensure that children are not subjected to negative inputs which have the effect of inducing a feeling of inferiority. It is for this specific reason that provisions of Sections 16 and 17 have been made incorporated in the 2009 Act. Classification of children into sections on the basis of their marks has the tendency of creating a feeling of inferiority amongst children securing less marks and, thus, the practice is a violation of fundamental right of elementary education.
The aforementioned Act also violates the right of equal opportunity enshrined in the Constitution. If an action induces a sense of inferiority in a child, it is being denied the right to development and growth at par with a child who does not suffer from such feeling of inferiority. Under the constitutional scheme, institutions providing elementary education are bound to create a free and open atmosphere that promotes a sense of equality. Any action which promotes inequality cannot be permitted
The Court also upheld the order of Punjab State Commission for Protection of Child Rights directing the school to discontinue the practice of forming sections on the basis of merit