The Supreme Court on Thursday said private schools were money-spinning enterprises and asked them to wake up to their corporate-social responsibility by educating poor children. The apex court bench of Chief Justice S.H. Kapadia, Justice K.S. Panicker Radhakrishnan and Justice Swatanter Kumar said this on a petition by the Society for Unaided Private Schools of Rajasthan. The society has challenged 25 percent reservation of seats for students from economically weaker section (EWS) under the Right of children to Free and Compulsory Education law. The court indicated that it might call for the accounts of last five years of these schools to check their financial status. The court asked senior counsel Vikas Singh, appearing for the schools, to tell “if there is a mechanism for the regulator (under the right to education) to exempt a school from admitting 25 percent (of the) students from the EWS”. The court reminded the private educational institutions that they “are questioning the wisdom of parliament as the said provision flows from a statute enacted by parliament”. Vikas Singh told the court that under Article 21A of the constitution “parliament can't make a law and compel an unaided school whether belonging to minorities, or other wise, to provide free and compulsory education to the children from EWS of society”. The senior counsel told the court that “the right to education law is not in line with Article 21A but is contrary to its objectives” and that of the fundamental rights. Article 21A of the constitution states that the state shall provide free and compulsory education to all children of the age of six to 14 years in such manner as the state may, by law, determine. Vikas Singh said that the said provision of the statute violated the right of an affluent child from taking admission to a school of his choice. The court dismissed the plea on the grounds that there was no student with such a pleading before it. “None of them is before us. Where are the pleadings of the rights of the affected child,” the court asked. Schools' counsel said that whatever law the apex court will lay would affect this (affluent) child also. At one point, Vikas Singh said that the government would use it (right to education law) “as an election issue”. The court asked Additional Solicitor General Indira Jaising to refer to the report of the Law Commission on this issue. Jaising said that the commission dealt with this subject in its report but there were no recommendations. Taking a dig at Vikas Singh, she told the court, “He (Vikas Singh) may be representing a higher (class) school but we are concerned with the country as a whole.”
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