Extension of RTE to secondary level will have large financial implications: Centre to Delhi HC

The Centre has informed the Delhi High Court that the extension of RTE to secondary education would require more synergic cooperation between different levels of government and will have large financial implications. In the affidavit, the Under Secretary, Ministry of HRD has admitted that an extension beyond 14 years is going to add on the financial burden on the state and same, being a policy decision, has thus to be thoroughly looked into by the appropriate authorities. Centre has filed its affidavit in a Plea seeking benefit of Continuation of free Education as defined under Section 12(1) (c) of the RTE Act 2009 up to Class 12 in unaided non minority Private Schools irrespective of whether they are situated on Public Land or Private Land. The petitioner has contended that fundamental rights of disadvantaged groups/economics weaker sections (DG/EWS) have been violated due to inaction on the part of the respondents by providing free education to DG/EWS category of students only till Class VIII and not up to Class XII. The claim in the PIL seeking extension of free education beyond a child's age of 14 years has been contradicted on the grounds that schools get benefits from state government in the form of free or concessional land, building, equipment or other facilities in lieu of which state requires such schools to provide free education to members of a disadvantaged group or an economically weaker section. But, this liability cannot be extended beyond the prescribed age as such a decision needs greater "synergic co-operation between different levels of government" and the same will have "larger financial implications". The Government, through the affidavit, has however clarified its intent to offer the students admission in neighbourhood Government Secondary schools. Education being in the Concurrent List, such a major decision can be taken through the legislative route only and the same has thus can be dealt post the elections, after consultation with all the State and UT Governments.

-India Legal Bureau

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