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Right to education does not confer choice of school as well, rules Delhi HC | Latest News Delhi


The fundamental right to free and compulsory education does not confer on any child a constitutional right to be educated in a particular school of choice, the Delhi high court has said, adding that the state is only obligated to ensure that every child receives such education free of charge till the age of 14.

The court laid down this principle while denying admission to a seven-and-a-half-year-old girl in Maharaja Agrasen Model School for the academic session 2023-24 in Class 2. (HT Archive)

“The right guaranteed to every child under Article 21A of the Constitution or under the RTE (Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education) Act is only for free and compulsory education till the age of fourteen. The state is only obligated to ensure that every child receives such education free of charge. The child, therefore, has a right only to receive such education. Article 21A does not, however, confer, on any child, a constitutional right to be educated in a particular school of her choice. The right available under Article 21A of the Constitution or under Section 12 of the RTE Act is only to free and compulsory education till the age of fourteen, not for being provided such education in a particular school,” a bench of justice C Hari Shankar said in the March 22 order.

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The court was of the view that the right to be educated in a particular school of choice would only arise if a child applies to the Directorate of Education (DOE) as an economically weaker section (EWS) student for admission in the entry-level class for that year and is shortlisted in the computerised draw of lots conducted by DOE.

The court laid down this principle while denying admission to a seven-and-a-half-year-old girl in Maharaja Agrasen Model School for the academic session 2023-24 in Class 2.

The girl sought admission on the ground that the school refused to admit her irrespective of her name being shortlisted for admission as an EWS student to Class 1 for academic session 2022-23 following the computerised draw of lots conducted by DOE.

Relying on the provisions of the RTE Act read with circulars issued by DOE, the girl, in her petition before the high court, contended that the school could not have refused to admit her.

Rejecting her contention, justice Shankar ruled that a child who failed to secure admission into a school as an EWS candidate despite having been shortlisted by DOE can even initiate legal action in that regard. However, the candidate cannot claim that she or he has an enforceable right to admission in that school, for the next academic year to the next higher class on the basis of the said shortlisting.

“Each year constitutes a fresh academic session. A child, who, for whatever reason, is unable to secure admission into a school as an EWS candidate despite having been shortlisted by DoE, and allows that academic year to pass without initiating any legal action in that regard, cannot claim that on the basis of the said shortlisting, that she or he has an enforceable right to admission in that school for the next academic year to the next higher class. There is no such automatic carry forward of the right which ensures in favour of the student, consequent to the draw of lots conducted by DoE for a particular academic year, to the next academic year, in that class or in any higher class. Rights, it must be appreciated, extinguish with time,” the court noted.

The girl appearing through advocate Khagesh B Jha contended that she had the right to admission in accordance with the outcome of the computerised draw of lots conducted by DOE.

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While supporting the girl’s case, DOE represented through advocate Santosh Kumar Tripathi stated that pursuant to the receipt of complaint regarding the school denying admission to EWS students shortlisted by it in the computerised draw of lots, it had written an email directing the school’s principal to grant admission to the girl. It further contended that section 12 of the RTE mandated all schools except minority schools to admit at least 25% of children belonging to the EWS category at the entry level and further relied on its July 9, 2021 circular that required schools desirous of obtaining exemption from the 25% requirements, to seek specific permission from the deputy directorate of education.



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