Published: 22nd May 2023
RTE students need not pay fee, state must: Madras High Court
Justice Dhandapani further directed the school education secretary to issue instructions within two weeks to the officials of the department and all the schools not to claim any amount from children
Holding that a child admitted under the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act should be given education by absorbing all the fees by the State, the Madras High Court has said the concerned schools should collect fees from the students but lay claim on the State.
Allowing a petition filed by a minor student who was denied uniform, textbooks and notebooks after failing to pay the fees as demanded by a private school, Justice M Dhandapani, in a recent order said, "The court is of the considered opinion that it is the duty of the State to provide free and compulsory education to the children specified under sections 2 (d) and (e) of the Act by absorbing all the fees."
He added, it is not for the child to 'pay even a penny' to get themselves educated as it is the 'bounden duty' of the State under the Directive Principles of State Policy to provide free and compulsory education to children of weaker and disadvantaged sections.
What about reimbursement?
On reimbursement of all the fees paid by the student, the judge said,"... but to issue an affirmative direction to the fifth respondent (school education secretary) to reimburse all the expenses due and payable by the petitioner and all other children, similarly placed, who have been admitted under the 25% quota without insisting on any payment."
Justice Dhandapani further directed the school education secretary to issue instructions within two weeks to the officials of the department and all the schools not to claim any amount from the children but lay claim on the State and the State shall defray all such expenses.
Who was the petition filed by?
The petition filed by P Maharaja on behalf of his son M Suveathan seeking orders to the concerned authorities to take against the Little Flower Matriculation School, Gudiyattam in Vellore district, for denying him uniforms and books.
The child, who was admitted under RTE Act, paid Rs 5,340 and Rs 6,437 for 2017-18 and 2018-19 respectively as demanded by the school which also demanded Rs 11,977 for 2019-20. When he did not pay, the school denied him uniforms and books.