Three Pune schools win right to stay out of RTE ambit

Published: 25 December, 2013 07:09 IST | Niranjan Medhekar |

After being directed by Zilla Parishad to make 25 per cent seats available to students from economically weaker sections, the institutes had gone to High Court, contending that as they were minority-unaided schools, RTE was not applicable to them

In a much-anticipated judgement, Bombay High Court yesterday illuminated that allotting facility by the government in the form of land can not considered as aid, and provisions of Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act are not applicable to minority-unaided schools.

 After receiving directions from Zilla Parishad about making available 25 per cent seats to economically weaker section (EWS) students at the beginning of ongoing academic year, three city-based schools — The Bishop’s Education Society, the Society of St Mary’s School and the Saraswati Vidyalaya (SV) Union School — had taken a stand that as they were minority-unaided schools, RTE was not applicable to them.

On this, the ZP had stated that the land where these schools are situated had been provided by the central government on lease at concessional rate, and hence they were ‘minority-aided’ schools and RTE was applicable to them. All the three schools then moved the Bombay High Court with separate writ petitions to challenge the stand taken by ZP.

No reservations
“The court in its judgment has made it clear that only if a school is receiving regular expenses, fully or partly, from the government does it become an ‘aided’ institution. Providing one-time facility in the form of land cannot be considered as aid, and so the status of these schools is ‘minority-unaided’,” advocate Mihir Desai, an intervener in the case, told MiD DAY.

When contacted Sujata Mallic Kumar, principal of St Mary’s School, said, “I would only react after getting a written copy of the detailed judgement. But, definitely, it’s major relief for us.”

On the other hand, Pune ZP, the respondent in the case, and PMC corporator Siddharth Dhende, an intervener in the case, are planning to move the Supreme Court against the High Court order.

“We are going to fight against this verdict by approaching the Supreme Court,” Dhende said.

In an interim order on July 10, Bombay High Court had directed all the three schools to reserve 25 per cent seats to EWS students according to RTE during the admission procedure. At the time, the HC bench had stated that whether concession received by the petitioner (Bishop’s School) in the form of allowance in property tax could be considered as ‘aid’, required debate 

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