New Delhi, October 31: The Delhi High Court Thursday asked the city government to respond to the association of private schools' plea challenging the rule under the Right of Education Act that requires books and uniforms to be supplied to poor students free of cost. A division bench of Justice B.D. Ahmed and Justice Siddharth Mridul asked the directorate of education to file its reply within a week to the private schools' plea and posted the matter for Nov 18.
The association of private schools sought an amendment in the petition filed by it earlier, which the court allowed. The schools asked the court to direct the government to provide financial assistance for books, uniforms to the Economic Weaker Section (EWS) and disabled group (DG) category students studying in unaided private schools on government land without involving them.
Seeking quashing of the Delhi RTE rule 8, the schools also asked the court to "hold that unaided private schools who have been allotted land by the government are not liable to provide free books, uniforms and any writing material to the EWS and DG students".
The schools said the government should have the liability to provide free books and uniforms to EWS and DG category students, as it creates an obligation in the unaided schools. It said the government itself in its own schools was not providing any free books and uniforms to students and was only providing cash subsidy or financial assistance against the purchase of uniforms by the students themselves. "Hence, the liability which is not even borne by the government itself can't be imposed upon private unaided schools," the plea said. According to the Delhi RTE rules, private schools have to provide free books and uniforms to children belonging to the EWS and DG categories.
The government reimburses the amount later. The plea said the Delhi RTE rule 8 was absolutely unconstitutional and illegal. The court was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by advocate Khagesh Jha demanding proper implementation of the provisions of the Right to Education Act to provide free books and uniforms to children from the EWS and disadvantaged group categories in private unaided schools.
The PIL said unaided-recognised schools were bound to give not only admission but also provide books, uniforms and other study materials free of cost to students admitted under the 25 percent quota of EWS and disadvantaged groups.