A division bench of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice Nitin Jamdar on Thursday ruled that the government would have to reimburse private unaided schools for the educational expenses of students belonging to SC/ST and other disadvantaged categories.
The presence of government/civic primary schools cannot be the grounds to deny children of weaker sections their right to choose elementary school providing satisfactory quality of education, said the bench. It is clear from the statement of objects and reasons to the Right To Education Act that children from disadvantaged sections are not merely entitled to free and compulsory education but also to free elementary education of ‘satisfactory quality’. If state/civic schools provide education of satisfactory quality, children would not have to go to private unaided schools, the bench adds.
The court asked the state to reimburse for education expenses of SC/ST children from the academic year of 2010-2011; it has stated that an annual amount of Rs 10,463 should be paid for every ClassI-IV child and Rs 25,581 for those in Class V to VIII, or the actual fee, whichever is less, irrespective of parents’ income. Schools will also be reimbursed similar amounts for kids of vimukta jaati notified tribes (VJNT), other backward classes (OBC) and special backward classes (SBC), if their parents earn less than Rs 1 lakh per annum. For every SC/ST kids of Classes IX and X (irrespective of parents’ income) and VJNT/OBC/SBC students of Class I-X, whose parents earn Rs 1-4.5 lakh, Rs 100-Rs 350 will be paid.
The court’s decision came on a public interest litigation filed by parents of children who were barred from attending schools as the state had not reimbursed the expenses to the institutions. The state had opposed the petition on the grounds of the financial burden on the public exchequer and asked the court to exclude the creamy layer from the scheme.
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