New Delhi, Aug. 10: Kapil Sibal has a piece of advice for unaided minority schools: do follow the minimum quality standards prescribed under the Right To Education Act.
“The prescriptions laid down under the RTE Act are standards that are consistent with good administration and will improve the quality of education. Hence, all minority institutions ought to comply with them,” the Union human resource development minister told The Telegraph yesterday.
On April 12, the Supreme Court had exempted unaided minority schools from following the RTE Act and highlighted two of its provisions, one of which related to the prescribed quality standards. (See chart)
The court held that the act, “in particular Sections 12(1)(c) and 18(3), infringes on the fundamental freedom guaranteed to unaided minority schools under Article 30(1), and the 2009 Act shall not apply to such schools”.
Article 30(1) of the Constitution gives all minorities the right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice. Section 18(3) of the RTE Act relates to withdrawal of a school’s recognition for failure to follow the prescribed standards.
Sibal, however, argued that the norms prescribed under the RTE Act were consistent with the Supreme Court verdict.
“The Supreme Court judgment has referred to Article 30(1). But under Article 30(1), the right to administer does not include the right to mis-administer,” Sibal said.
“Can a minority school state that it will not comply with the minimum quality standards? Can we allow a school to run from one room?”
After the Supreme Court’s verdict, Sibal had written to the chief ministers asking them to implement the RTE Act while exempting unaided minority schools. But the letter did not clarify whether these schools were exempt from all the act’s provisions or only the two highlighted in the judgment.
Section 12(1)(c) — the other provision highlighted — says that every school imparting elementary education must reserve 25 per cent of its seats for disadvantaged children from the neighbourhood, who should be taught free of charge.
Sibal’s ministry is consulting the law ministry and is likely to seek a clarification from the Supreme Court whether the entire act or only the two provisions would cease to apply to unaided minority schools.
Some of the other provisions of the act ban detentions, corporal punishment and denial of admission on the grounds of religion or caste.
Some minority schools in Bengal have expressed a desire to stop taking aid from the government to be eligible for exemption from the RTE Act. Sources in Sibal’s ministry, however, said that if the Bengal government sought its views, the ministry would advise it against granting the schools’ request.