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THE RIGHT TO EDUCATION : A BASIC FUNDAMENTAL RIGHT | The High Court Bar Association of Manipur


Irengbam Jugeshwar Singh, Principal, Royal Academy Of Law Oinam


  1. To abolish illiteracy from the country
  2. To provide free and compulsory education to all children of age 6 to 14 years
  3. To ensure the child for an all round development of personality: physical, mental, moral and social.


Education is the back bone of a nation. Without education, people cannot work productively, care for their health, sustain and protect themselves and their families or culturally enriched lives. Illiteracy makes it difficult for them to interact in society in a spirit of understanding peace, tolerance and gender equality among all people and groups. As Mahatama Gandhi the father of nation said, “Education certainly is a mean to all round progress of man, in other words the path way to human development goes through the lane of education. Moreover true education is the sole basis of achieving one’s purpose in life. It is education, which can ascertain ultimate peace for human being”. Learning begins at birth and continues till death. A child’s brain is full of potential. Children’s ability to prosper in the education system has, to an extent, already been determined. By the age of six, when generally start school most of the brain neural connection are already made. There is a consensus that child care and early education are inseparable. Children cannot be well cared for without being educated and children cannot be well educated without being cared for. Never again can the early years be excluded from the world’s sense of what is meant by “education”. Therefore, basic education has to include program promoting early childhood care for Child growth and development.

Judicial Response to Right To Education

In Mohini Jain v State of Karnataka,AIR 1992 SC.1858 the petitioner was denied admission because of high capitation fee of Rs.4.5 lac per annum in private medical college in  Karnataka. The apex Court held that right to Education at all levels is a fundamental right under article 21 of the Constitution and charging capitation fee for admission fee is illegal and amounted to denial of citizens’ right to Education. Education in India has never been commodity. However, the court did not say up to what age a citizen has right to education guaranteed by constitution.

Again, in Unni Krishan v State of A.P. (1993), S.CC 645 where the court specifically held that the right to education for the children of the age 6 to 14 years is a fundamental right. The court has said that after 14 years of age the obligation of the state depended on the economic capacity and development and the Mohini Jain’s judgment was overruled.

Right to Education: A Fundamental Right under Article 21A

Article 21A was inserted by the Constitution (Eighty-six Amendment) Act, 2002, and it provides for free and compulsory education of all children in the age group of six to fourteen years as a Fundamental Right in such manner as the state may, by law, determine. Previously it was under the Article 45 of the constitution as directive policy of state. The manner to determine and regulate for providing free and compulsory education is laid down in the newly enacted “The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act 2009, (as amended by the Act 2012) [in short, RTE Act, 2009]”.

The Act, inter-alia, mandate the right of the children from 6 to 14 years to free and compulsory education and responsibility and function of the State and school. The Act has 39 sections, seven chapters and one schedule.

Under Section 2(n) defines a school means (1) any recognized School imparting elementary education and includes Government School, Aided School, School belonging to specified category and Unaided Schools.

Section 2(f) defines “elementary education” means the education from class first to eighth class.

Section 2(c) defines “child” means a male or female child of the age of six to fourteen years and includes, Child belonging to disadvantage group Child with disability; and as per section 2(h) “Local Authority” means a Municipal Corporation or Municipal Council or Zila Parishad or Nagar Panchayat or Panchayat, by whatever name called and includes such other authority having administrative control over the school or empowered by or under any law for the time being in force to function as a local authority in a city, town or village.

Section 3 provides every child from the age of 6 to 14 years a right to free and compulsory education in a neighbourhood school till the completion of elementary education.

Chapter IV (Section 12-28) prescribes the responsibilities of schools and teachers. Section 12(1)© mandates that a specified category school and an unaided school shall also admit in class I, to the extent of 25% of the strength of that class, children belonging to weaker section and disadvantaged group in neighbourhood and provide free and compulsory elementary education till its completion. Section 13 specifically bans on collection of capitation fee and conduct of any screening test to child or parent or guardian. Section 18 mandates recognition school as specified in the Schedule. Under Section 23, the minimum qualifications for appointment of teacher is as laid down by the academic authority. Section 29 authorizes the appropriate Government to prescribe the curriculum and the evaluation procedure for elementary education.

However the Act does not treat “a minority institution” as a separate and distinct category of school as Section 2(n) does not define a minority school as a separate category. Such school is included within sub clause (ii) and (iv) of Section 2(n) of the Act and the Act does not exempt any school from its purview.

Duties of government and local authority:-

Every local authority shall provide free and compulsory elementary education   to every child:

Responsibilities of schools and teachers

School Management Committee

Composition and functions of the School Management Committee (1) A School Management and Development Committee shall be constituted in every school, other than an unaided school, within its jurisdiction, within six months of the appointed date (1st April 2010), and reconstituted every year.

The strength of the School Management and Development Committee shall be 14 with the following composition:

To manage its affairs, the School Management and Development Committee shall elect a Chairperson and Vice Chairperson from among the parent members. The Head teacher of the school or where the school does not have a head teacher, the senior most teacher of the school, shall be the ex-officio Member-Convener of the School Management and Development Committee.

The School Management and Development Committee shall meet at least once in three months and the minutes and decisions of the meetings shall be properly recorded and made available to the public:

The School Management and Development Committee shall, in addition to their functions, perform the following functions, for which it may constitute smaller working groups from amongst its Members:

Any money received by the School Management and Development Committee for the discharge of its functions under the Act, shall be kept in a separate account, to be made available for audit every year.

The accounts referred to in clause (j) to sub-rule (6) and sub-rule (7) should be operated by the Chairperson/the Vice-Chairperson and the Convener of the School Management and Development Committee and made available to the local authority within one month of their preparation.

Duties of teachers

A teacher committing default in performance of duties shall be liable to disciplinary action under the service rules applicable to him or her. Before taking such disciplinary action, reasonable opportunity of being heard shall be afforded to such teacher. The grievances, if any, of the teacher shall be redressed in such manner as may be prescribed.

Redressal of Grievances

Any person having any grievance relating to the right of a child under this Act may make a written complaint to the local authority having jurisdiction. After receiving the complaint the local authority shall decide the matter within a period of three month after affording a reasonable opportunity of being heard to the parties concerned.

Any person aggrieved by the decision of the local authority may prefer an appeal to the State Commission for Protection of Child Rights or the authority prescribed under the Act. The appeal shall be decided by State Commission for protection of Child Rights or the authority prescribe under the Act.


From a plain reading of the RTE Act, it is clear that free and compulsory elementary education for all children of this country has become a basic fundamental rights of the constitution of India. The responsibility for implementing this Act in the true sense shall be borne by the government, local authority, teachers and guardians. Unless the concern authorities do not involve seriously in carrying out their duties  honestly with a sacrificing spirit in the larger interest of the population of this country, it will remain incomplete our dream of eradication of illiteracy since as per India’s 2011 census: the literacy rate is 74.04% in which women and men are 65.46% and 85% respectively. The spirit of the Act of the Right to Education is total education of the whole population of India.