Saturday, March 30, 2013

Constitution Bench to decide on RTE validity

Constitution Bench to decide on RTE validity

Express news service : New Delhi, Tue Mar 26 2013, 10:27 hrs

Less than a year after it ratified the legal status of the Right To Education (RTE) Act, the Supreme Court has held it "appropriate" for a Constitution Bench to test yet again the constitutional validity of the social welfare legislation enacted with Constitutional amendments.
A Bench, led by Justice K S Radhakrishnan, last week ordered for placing a petition moved by a bunch of Karnataka-based institutions before the Chief Justice of India for constitution of appropriate Bench to hear a legal challenge to Articles 15(5) and 21A. These provisions obligate unaided private schools to reserve 25 per cent seats for students from weaker sections of society.
"We remember some of the challenges were given up when the previous matter on this issue was being heard. It was done since a new academic session was scheduled to begin and schools had to reopen. So the matter was immediately heard for an immediate judgment," observed the bench when it was contended that constitutional validity of these provisions were never dealt with in the April 2012 verdict.
In its 2012 verdict, a three-judge Bench, by a 2:1 majority verdict, had shot down a challenge to the validity of the RTE, consequently obligating private unaided schools to reserve seats.
Appearing for Pramati Educational and Cultural Trust and others, advocate Mukul Rohatgi referred to an order of SC on September 6, 2010 whereby the issue was referred for adjudication to a five-judge Constitution Bench.
"Therefore the three-judge Bench heard other issues and did not adjudicate at all on validity of Articles 15(5) and 21A. It was never argued upon if these are violative of the basic structure of the Constitution. Can you put an obligation on private unaided schools by application of these provisions? It remains to be decided," contended Rohatgi.

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