Thursday, March 6, 2014

1.45 lakh children discriminated under RTE Act: Naz Foundation

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday sought responses from the Centre and states on a PIL filed by NGO 'Naz Foundation' alleging that nearly 1.45 lakh HIV positive children were denied their legitimate dues under the Right to Education (RTE) Act.

Quoting National AIDS Control Organization (NACO) figures, NGO's counsel Anand Grover informed the court that nearly 1.45 lakh children were HIV positive and pointed to a disturbing trend in government and private schools which either deny them admission or segregate them from other children.

Arguing before a bench of Justices B S Chauhan and J Chelameswar, the counsel said under RTE Act, every parent was compelled to disclose the HIV status of their wards in the screening test.

"Once this information is made available to the school authorities, the children aged between 6 to 15 years are denied, expelled without reason, or worse even segregated from rest of the students," the NGO alleged.

Grover said the NGO had compiled 61 reported cases and alleged that the schools had breached confidentiality about identity of the HIV positive children. The NGO requested the court to direct the governments and National Commission for Protection of Child Rights ( NCPCR) to explore the possibility of framing guidelines under the RTE Act to prevent discrimination of HIV positive children.

The NGO suggested bracketing HIV positive children with the 'disadvantaged groups' under the RTE Act to compel schools to give them admission. Section 9(c) of the Act says, "Every local authority shall ensure that the child belonging to weaker section and the child belonging to disadvantaged group are not discriminated against and prevented from pursuing and completing elementary education on any grounds."

The Act mandates the states and the Centre to notify the disadvantaged groups. Since the Act came into force in 2010, only Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Uttarakhand and Manipur have notified HIV positive children as "disadvantaged".

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