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Bombay HC stays notification giving conditional exemption from 25 pc RTE quota to pvt unaided schools

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MUMBAI, May 6: The Bombay High Court on Monday stayed a notification issued by the Maharashtra government that exempted private unaided schools from admitting students under Right to Education (RTE) quota if there is a government-run school within a 1 kilometre radius.

A division bench of Chief Justice D K Upadhyaya and Justice Arif Doctor said the issue concerned “overwhelming public interest” and that the impugned notification, issued on February 9, contravened provisions of Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act 2009, also known as RTE.

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Under the RTE Act, 25 per cent seats at the entry point – Class 1 or pre-primary section – in private unaided schools should be reserved for children from economically weaker and disadvantaged sections. These students get free education free, while the government reimburses their tuition fees to schools.

The notification, however, exempted private unaided schools within 1 kilometre radius of a government-run or aided school from reserving 25 per cent seats for economically weaker and disadvantaged children.

The bench on Monday noted that such a notification would hamper free education being provided to children.

“Any subordinate legislation cannot be made in contravention of the principal Act; even otherwise by appending impugned proviso to the RTE Act,” the court said.

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The bench said the notification was “prima facie” ultra vires to the Constitution and stayed it until further orders.

The court was hearing a bunch of petitions challenging the notification. As per the petitioners, the notification was unconstitutional and contrary to RTE Act, which entitles children from weaker section and disadvantaged section to free education.

Additional government pleader Jyoti Chavan said the notification applied only to those unaided private schools situated in areas where there is a government or aided school.

The HC has kept the matter for further hearing on Tuesday. (PTI)

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