Experts divided over decision to exempt unaided minority schools from RTE Act

Experts are divided over the stand taken by the State Education department to exempt the unaided minority schools from the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act 2009 while releasing the admission schedule for the academic year 2013-14. While some experts have termed the decision in contrary to the enabling provisions of the Act, others are describing it as in conformity with the Act.

In chapter 1 of the Principal RTE Act, section one had three sub-sections after which sub-sections four and five were added to elaborate further the extent of its application during June last year. This section reads 'Subject to the provisions of Articles 29 and 30 of the Constitution, the provisions of this Act shall apply to conferment of rights of children to free and compulsory education' and 'Nothing contained in this Act shall apply to Madrasas, Vedic Pathshalas and educational institutions primarily imparting religious education', respectively.

"The amendments spell out clearly the purview of the application of the Act. Only theological schools are expected to get exempted from the RTE Act as per these amendments and not even unaided minority schools," said Bhaskarrao E Avhad, senior legal advisor.

Suryakant Kulkarni, RTE state representative for Maharashtra, said the state government has wrongly interpreted the amendments in the Act while keeping unaided minority school outside. "The schedule released by the government for carrying out RTE admissions for the coming academic year contradicts the basic principles of the Act."

Reacting on the issue, Minority Educational Rights Consultant advocate Markas Deshmukh, however, said the provisions of RTE Act and its rules and amendment made in 2012 do not apply to un-aided minority educational institutes. "The RTE Act and the Supreme Court Judgment in Writ Petition of Society for un-aided private schools of Rajasthan versus Union of India and others categorically mentioned that the RTE Act is not applicable to un-aided minority institutions," he said.

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