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Teaching is charity: SC

New Delhi, April 12: The Supreme Court bench that upheld the right to education act today cited previous judgments that said an educational institution is charitable by nature.

“Advancement of education is a recognised head of charity. Section 3(2) of the act has been enacted with the object of removing financial barrier which prevents a child from accessing education. The other purpose of enacting Section 3(2) is to prevent educational institutions charging capitation fees resulting in creation of a financial barrier which prevents a child from accessing or exercising its right to education which is now provided for vide Article 21A,” the court said.

Thus no child shall be liable to pay any kind of fee or charges or expenses which may prevent him or her from pursuing or completing the elementary education.

“Such a restriction is in the interest of the general public. It is also a reasonable restriction. Such measures address two aspects, viz., upholding the fundamental right of the private management to establish an unaided educational institution of their choice and, at the same time, securing the interests of the children in the locality, in particular, those who may not be able to pursue education due to inability to pay fees or charges of the private unaided schools. We also do not see any merit in the contention that Section 12(1)(c) violates Article 14 (right to equality).”

“If education is an activity which is charitable, could the unaided non-minority educational institution contend that the intake of 25 per cent children belonging to weaker sections and disadvantaged groups only in Class I as provided for in Section 12(1)(c) would constitute violation of Article 19(1)(g)? Would such a provision not be saved by the principle of reasonable restriction imposed in the interest of the general public in Article 19(6) of the Constitution?”

Justices S.H. Kapadia and Swatanter Kumar, who upheld the right to education act, lauded its intent to ensure free and compulsory education to all in their neighbourhood.

The act provides for right (entitlement) of children to free and compulsory admission.

The word “free” removes any financial barrier that prevents a child from completing eight years of schooling. The word compulsory is a compulsion on the state and the parental duty to send children to school.