SC upholds constitutional validity of RTE Act

New Delhi, May 6, 2014: The Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld the constitutional validity of the Right to Education Act, which mandates that 25 per cent seats in all schools be reserved for the economically disadvantaged.

A five-judge Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice RM Lodha said that the Act will not apply to aided or unaided minority institutions.

The bench, also comprising justices AK Patnaik, SJ Mukhopadhaya, Dipak Misra and FMI Kalifulla, said Article 21 (A) does not alter the basis structure of the Constitution.

On August 23, 2013, a three-judge bench had referred the issue to a five-judge bench because it involved a vital constitutional question of law relating to the rights of unaided private educational institutions. Before that in April, 2013, a two-judge bench of the apex court had referred the matter to the three-judge bench.

Federation of Public Schools, a conglomerate of over 350 private unaided schools, had contended that the law violates their right to run their schools without government interference.

The right to education law was enacted by Parliament in 2009 by inserting Article 21A to provide free and compulsory education to children between 6 and 14 years.