Gauhati HC orders State Govt to take action against schools not reserving 25% elementary level seats for disadvantaged children

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The State Govt had issued guidelines in 2021 regarding the benefits under Section 12(1)(c) of RTE Act, however, the petitioner alleged that the same had not been implemented.

While directing the Government of Assam to ensure effective implementation of the guidelines issued in 2021 regarding the benefits under Section 12(1)(c) of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 (RTE Act), the Gauhati High Court recently ordered for strict action against unaided, non-minority educational institutions which do not comply with it. 

The Elementary Education Department of the Assam Government had issued detailed guidelines via an office memorandum dated September 2, 2021, to provide for education to the extent of at least 25% of the strength of a class for children belonging to weaker sections and disadvantaged groups in the neighborhood of schools.

However, one Debargha Roy moved a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) this year before the high court alleging that in a number of unaided, non-minority institutions, the abovementioned guidelines have not been duly complied with.

The petitioner sought direction to the authorities in the Government of Assam to ensure proper compliance and implementation of the requirement of Section 12(1)(c) of the RTE Act.

Moreover, the petitioner alleged that for the purpose of implementation of the said guidelines, in April and May last year, representations were also made to the Director of Elementary Education, Assam but to no avail. 

He further asserted that as per the concerned guidelines, the State Education Department as well as the respective schools have to officially announce about the issuance of admission forms under Section 12(1)(c) under the Act of 2009 through websites, regional newspapers and reliable media before March 17 of the year, but in spite of such requirement, the notice had not yet been issued.

Court took note of the grievances raised in the plea and opined that there is indeed a requirement to implement the said guidelines. 

Accordingly, court directed the respondent authorities to do the needful as may be required to implement the policy/guidelines contained in the office memorandum dated September 2, 2021.

" that the benefits provided therein are made available to the children belonging to the weaker section and disadvantaged group by availing the benefits of free and compulsory elementary education till its completion, for the academic year 2023-24," Court stated while adding that "similar direction would also remain for all such subsequent academic years".

Court also directed the Elementary Education Department of the Government of Assam through its Secretary to do the needful for officially announcing the issuance of admission forms under Section 12(1)(c) on or before March 14, 2023, and the respective unaided, non-minority schools to made such announcement on or before March 15, 2023. 

Case Title: Deabrgha Roy v State of Assam and 5 Ors