Ensure Right to Education Act is implemented and EWS students get representation: Delhi High Court to private schools, DoE

Justice Chandra Dhari Singh said that it is high time that the judiciary steps in because people are not able to avail their fundamental rights.

The Delhi High Court on Friday bemoaned that children belonging to Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) are not able to enforce their right to get admission to private schools [Rameshwar Jha vs The Principal Richmond Global School and Ors.]

Single-judge Justice Chandra Dhari Singh said that while the country is rejoicing and celebrating 'Azaadi ka Amrit Mahtosav', because we achieved political independence in 1947, "social and economic independence still evades us".

The court said that it was high time the judiciary steps in because people are not able to avail their fundamental rights.

Hence, the Court directed Delhi government's Directorate of Education (DoE) to ensure that Right to Education Act is implemented in letter and spirit and EWS get representation.

"It is high time that the judiciary reaches the people. As the poor people are being forced and not able to avail their fundamental rights, given … it is pertinent to exercise powers under 226 to direct the DoE to ensure people of weaker sections get representation in schools . All the private schools shall ensure that the provisions of the act are given effect in letter and spirit," the Court said.

The Court was dealing with 39 petitions by students and their parents seeking admission to private schools under the EWS quota. Despite the children possessing confirmed admission letters from the DoE, the schools refused to give them admission.

Counsel for petitioners claimed that, to add insult to injury, the school gates were literally shut in the faces of the shortlisted students and their parents.

"One can just imagine the humiliation faced by the young children and their parents. This Court, as a custodian of the Constitution, cannot remain a mute spectator to the outright bulldozing of human rights by those in the noble service of imparting education, thus bringing bad name and repute to the same," the Court remarked.

The Court, therefore, issued a slew of directions in the matter:

  • All schools to ensure that provisions of RTE Act are given effect in letter and spirit;

  • EWS students shall not be denied admission or treated with conduct unbecoming;

  • In case of erring schools, Department of Education shall issue strong orders and not hesitate in initiating process of de-recognition;

  • In exceptional circumstances, exemption can be granted to a school but the DOE shall ascertain that the reasons are bona fide.

The Court also directed that DoE shall ensure that all the students shortlisted and notified to be admitted in a neighborhood school shall be admitted at the earliest within one month or within the period prescribed by the appropriate authority subject to the provisions of the Act.

The schools raised a contention regarding frauds being committed by the parents of the students seeking admission, misrepresenting themselves as belonging to weaker section by forging documents and other scrupulous means.

In that regard, the Court directed the DoE to carry out necessary screening and seek necessary documents to authenticate the credentials of the child and their parents found fit for admission to respective neighborhood schools under the EWS quota.

The Court clarified that mere suspicion or doubt on the credentials of the candidate on the basis of fact-finding exercise carried out by the school, cannot be a ground to deny admission, otherwise it will render a death-knell to the spirit of the RTE Act.

"The schools as such, in the matters of admission under the Act/Rules, cannot bestow upon themselves the roles of the complainant, advocate as well as the adjudicator in such cases. Rather, if despite the due process adopted by the DoE for screening, in case the school, after admitting the child, suspects fraud being committed by the ward or their parents, they can seek recourse to legal remedies as available," the Court said.

[Read Judgement]

Rameshwar Jha v The Principal Richmond Global School & Ors.pdf

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