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The Supreme Court today issued notice in a petition raising the question of whether the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 (Right to Education Act/ RTE Act) applies to schools affiliated to International Education Boards.
The petition has been filed by an eleven-year-old boy challenging the decision of the Bombay High Court which had dismissed the petition.
The petitioner is a student of Ajmera Global School in Mumbai which is affiliated to the International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) syllabus. He was detained in Class VI on account of not securing the required aggregate marks as prescribed by the School. The petitioner’s report card also contained some harsh comments against him. Further, the School had also refused to issue a school leaving certificate to the petitioner effectively preventing him from seeking admission in another school leading to loss of one academic year.
It is the case of the petitioner that the Right to Education Act provides for a ‘no-detention policy’ till Class VIII and therefore, the school should not have detained him in Class VI.
The Bombay High Court had dismissed the case with some stern observations against the parents. It had held that the parents should also be held responsible for a child’s failure and the school alone could not be blamed. The High Court had also upheld the standards and norms for education set by the school on account of it being affiliated to IGCSE syllabus.
In a challenge to this order of the High Court, the petitioner has submitted before the Supreme Court that the RTE Act does not distinguish between any medium or syllabus of education. Thus, being affiliated to an international syllabus would not preclude the school from being governed by the provisions of the RTE Act. The petition also states that the High Court failed to appreciate Section 16 of the Act which provides for the no-detention policy.
Alleging that the Respondent school held back the petitioner for its own commercial motives, the petition has also underscored the fact that if relief is not granted in the matter, the petitioner will lose an academic year. This loss of a year will adversely affect his future given the stigma attached.
“if the impugned order is not set aside, the Petitioner stands to lose out on one academic year, thus affecting his future in as much as a repeat of one year leaves a long stigma in future academic and job prospects. The uncharitable comments in the report card as well as the detention will have deleterious effect on the child of such tender age and the Hon’ble High Court gravely erred in law in going against the express edict of the Act.”
The Bench of Justices AM Khanwilkar and Dinesh Maheshwari issued notice in the matter today. The petitioner was represented by advocates MF Philip and Purnima Krishna.