• The Constitution (Eighty-sixth Amendment) Act, 2002 inserted Article 21-A in the Constitution of India which provides that the state shall provide “free and compulsory education to all children of the age of 6 to 14 years in such manner as the state may be, by law, determine”.[1] The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009, describes the importance of free and compulsory education for children between the age of 6 to 14 years in India under Article 21-A, which means that every child has a right to full time elementary education of satisfactory and equitable quality in a school which satisfies certain essential norms and standards.
  • Article 21-A of the India Constitution and the RTE Act came into effect on 1st April 2010. The title of the RTE Act is ‘free and compulsory’. ‘Free education’ means that no child, shall be liable to pay any kind of fee or charges or expenses which may prevent him or her from pursuing and completing his/her elementary education. ‘Compulsory education’ means an obligation on the appropriate Government and local authorities to provide and ensure admission, attendance and completion of elementary education by all children in the 6-14 age groups.
  • In Mohini Jain v. State of Karnataka,[2] the court held that right to education at all level is a fundamental right u/A 21 of the Constitution and charging capitation fee for admission is illegal and amounted to denial of citizens’ right to education. The education is never be a commodity.
  • In the case of Unni Krishnan v. State of A.P.[3], the Supreme Court specifically held that the right to education for the children of the age of 6 -1 14 years is a fundamental right. The court further held that the right to free education is available only to the children of upto the age of 14 years and overruled the Mohini jain’s judgement that the children of all ages have the right to education.

Kerala High Court restrains schools from charging additional fees for online classes[4]

A single-judge bench of Justice C.S. Dias noted in his order that the right to education was sacrosanct in the Constitution of India and is the mandate under the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009.The order comes after the case of a 14-year-old girl who committed suicide in Malappuram because she could not attend the online classes. She belongs from a poor family and her family didn’t have either a TV or a smartphone.

In the case of Dr. Neetu Kukar  v. Union of India and Ors on 28 February, 2020, The Punjab and Haryana High Court stated that schools cannot group students according to their marks as it is violation of fundamental rights and it also creates “insecurity” among students. The petition was filed by Dr Neetu Kukar, whose child studies in a local school where students were grouped into different sections according to their marks.  So it was held that Grouping of Students into sections on the basis of marks is violation of their Fundamental Right: Punjab & Haryana HC.[5]

The 2012 Amendment to RTE Act

The amendment scrapped the “no detention” policy, which ensured that no student could be held back (or failed) in a class until the end of elementary education (that is Standard 8th).

Amendment in Karnataka Rights of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Rules in 2012

The Government of Karnataka enacted Karnataka Rights of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Rules in 2012 (herein Karnataka Act) to implement the provisions of Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act passed by the Parliament in 2009. Section 12(2) of the Karnataka Act defined the term ‘school’ as per Section 2(n) of RTE Act, 2009. This section stated that the unaided private schools were envisaged reimbursement as compensation for filling 25 per cent seats for the RTE children from weaker parts of the society. However, on 30-01-2019, the Government of Karnataka enacted an amendment altering the definition of term ‘school’ under Section 12(2) of the Karnataka Act. After this amendment, unaided schools were not required to provide admission to disadvantaged children where there government and unaided schools in the neighborhood.[6]

In the case of Education Rights Trust v. Government of Karnataka, on 31 May, 2019 the petitioners challenged the amendment in RTE Act in 2012. It was submitted that respondentcannot compel the parents to admit their children in the Government schools. An opportunity to get admission in private schools, is taken away by way of amendment, affecting the fundamental rights of children as well as parents. The court refused the petition and stated that if prayer is granted then the functioning of such schools established by the government, local authorities and the aided schools, would be a stake.[7]


“A man without education is equal to animal. Education means knowledge” and “knowledge itself is a power”. Education is essential for enjoyment of all the fundamental rights and without education a person can’t realise his freedom of speech and expression. Also, the dignified life is impossible without education. Fundamental Rights have no meaning, if there is no answer of such rights. Every generation make hopes from to the next generation that they shall build up a nation better than the present. Therefore education which helps to build up a better nation should always be the main concern for any nation. We all know that government provides compulsory education, or better say, free compulsory primary education. However due to the widespread poverty and various prejudices in the society, the efforts to develop an educational system by the government in India with equality and quality of education has not been achieved. The inability to check the dropout rates among the marginalized sections of the population is another cause of worry.

Artilcle is compiled by Ms. Ritu
(Law Student )

[1] The Constitution of India,1950.

[2] A.I.R 1992 S.C 1858.

[3] (1993) 1 S.C.C 645.

[4] https://theprint.in/judiciary/kerala-high-court-restrains-schools-from-charging-additional-fees-for-online-classes/435021/

[5] https://news.careers360.com/schools-cannot-group-students-sections-based-on-marks-hc

[6] https://www.scconline.com/blog/post/tag/karnataka-rights-of-children-to-free-and-compulsory-education-rules/

[7] https://lawstreet.co/judiciary/students-have-no-right-of-admission-in-pvt-schools-if-govt-schools-are-available/#:~:text=The%20Karnataka%20High%20Court%20in,are%20available%20in%20the%20neighbourhood.