HC verdict on RTE Act on city schools unlikely today

The much awaited judgment on the applicability of Right to Education (RTE) Act, 2009, on minority schools which was dated for hearing today is unlikely to be given out by Bombay High Court as the case has not appeared in the daily cause list that gives the details of a day's cases. The matter is being heard by division bench of justices A S Oka and Revati Mohite-Dhere.

"The website of HC had given the date for the next hearing as November 27. Since all the arguments from both respondent's and petitioner's sides were over last month, the only thing left for today is the judgment. But the cause list for today has no mention of our case. Hence now it is up to the court to decide when the verdict will be announced. Court may still decide to give verdict today itself," said Nilesh Borate, education activist and a respondent in the case.

Writ petitions were filed by Bishop's, St Mary's and SV union schools against the applicability of one of the RTE Act's main clauses which makes it mandatory for them to reserve 25 percent seats to the children belonging to economically and socially disadvantaged sections of the society. Citing the Supreme Court judgment of 2012, which says RTE Act is not applicable to unaided minority schools, the petitioner schools have claimed that since they are minority schools and come under unaided category, they must be exempted from implementing RTE Act.

However Pune Zilla Parishad (ZP) had argued that even though these schools do not receive any monetary aid from the government, but since these schools receive aids in terms of concession in property tax, land lease etc, they come under the aided minority schools category and hence they come under the ambit of RTE Act.

"The verdict will have a huge impact as there are many schools in the state that are minority institution but have aids in terms of land etc. rather than monetary aid. Since the admission season is coming up, whatever the decision, it will be applicable to a lot of schools," added Nilesh Borate.

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