Assam's Education Department Flayed by Gauhati High Court

The Chief Justice warned the State government's legal team to take action, or the Secretary will be paraded here.
Assam's Education Department Flayed by Gauhati High Court

GUWAHATI: The Assam education department has come under fire from the Gauhati High Court for how the state has implemented the Right to Education (RTE) Act. We for Guwahati Foundation v. State of Assam & Others is a case that was heard in court.

On May 17, a bench consisting of Chief Justice (CJ) Sandeep Mehta and Justice Mitali Thakuria urged the relevant parties to guarantee that admissions were granted in accordance with the Act's requirements.

The CJ interrogated counsel throughout the hearing to find out why there were no specific mechanisms or a dedicated portal set up and why such admissions were not being made.

"You want these people to apply online. They are already deprived. How will they apply?"

A public interest litigation (PIL) petition concerning the RTE Act's implementation was being heard by the court.

The PIL's petitioners claimed that despite the State having already issued the necessary notifications requiring all unaided educational institutions to strictly adhere to the requirements of Section 12(1)(c) of the RTE Act, many of these institutions have refused to admit the children during the current academic session.

According to Section 12(1)(c) of the RTE Act, private unaided schools must admit children from the weaker section and disadvantaged group in the neighbourhood to Class I, making up at least 25% of that class's student body, and must provide free and mandatory elementary education until the end of the grade.

The petitioners claimed that certain schools demanded fees from parents to enrol their children or forced them to sign blank commitments.

When the respondent's attorney stated that modalities were being worked out and that children should apply appropriately if benefits were being denied, CJ Mehta responded,

"You work out the modalities. You devolve criterion, rational criterion has to be there...We will take it day to day [if needed]."

The CJ enquired about the delay after it was brought out that a specific gateway for admissions was still under construction.

"When did the RTE Act come into force? Take steps, or the Secretary will be paraded here. Where is your denial to the averments made?"

The Bench further stated that upon receiving proof of admittance denials, it would consider ordering authorities to stop recognising certain institutions.

If the outstanding admissions and formalities were not finished, the Secretary of the Department of School Education was ordered to appear in court on the following hearing date.

On May 24, the case will be discussed once more.Advocates Anita Verma and Sudakshina Khanikar, who are both parties to the case in person, spoke on behalf of the petitioner-organization.

For the respondents, attorney R. Mazumdar was present.

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