Only time will tell how the schools go about implementing the Supreme Court ruling. Private schools will certainly look for ways to increase their revenue since their income from fees of these students will be affected, said Jayshree Marale, a retired principal of a civic school.
Marale said it is now certain that private schools will resort to increasing fees. Here the role of the state government will be very crucial. The state government has to ensure that schools do not arbitrarily increase their fees. Schools like the one in the city that refused to reduce fees despite protest from parents should be dealt with sternly, she said. There will be some schools providing excuses like non-availability of poor students seeking admission in their institute. All these should not be tolerated, she added.
According to the judgment, all private unaided schools across the country will have to reserve 25 per cent of their seats for students from economically and socially weaker sections staying in the vicinity of the school.
The judgment said, The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009, is constitutionally valid and shall apply to a school established, owned, or controlled by the appropriate Government or local authority; an aided school including aided minority school (s) receiving aid or grants to meet whole or part of its expenses from the appropriate Government or local authority for a school belonging to specified category and an unaided non-minority school not receiving any kind of aid or grants to meet its expenses from the appropriate Government or the local authority.
The court also made it clear that the unaided minority schools will not need to follow this directive. The decision was taken by a bench comprising Chief Justice SH Kapadia and justice KS Radhakrishnan and justice Swantanter Kumar. The government had first introduced the law in April 2010. However, at that time many schools had protested against it saying that a law like this would be unfair for the remaining 75 per cent because they would need to increase their fees to meet the growing expenses.
However, while declaring its decision, the court said that administering primary education to such children should be seen as a charitable activity and a student from an economically weak background should not be denied admission on the grounds of financial difficulty.