Mansimran Kaur

Mumbai, May 02, 2022: While dealing with a cluster of petitions instituted by the petitioners seeking admission in Class-VI in Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya (respondent), the Bombay High Court has opined that there was no legal justification in the action of the respondent in denying admission to the petitioners by ignoring the provisions of Section 15 of the Right of Children To Free And Compulsory Education Act, 2009 and taking a hyper-technical view of the matter.

The Division Bench of Justice A.S. Chandurkar and Justice G.A. Sanap allowed the petition assailing the impugned notice issued by the Principal of Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya whereby the petitioners (students) were denied admission to Class-VI on the ground that the petitioners were admitted to Class-V after the commencement of the academic year of 2020-2021 and thus were deemed to have not studied in standard V which was a pre-requisite for the petitioners to seek admission in  Class-VI of the aforesaid school.

Referring to Section 15, the Bench said, “From the aforesaid provisions it becomes amply clear that each child between the age of six to fourteen years has a right to free and compulsory education and that admission shall not be denied to any child even if the same is sought beyond the extended period as prescribed.”

Brief facts of the case were such that the petitioners were young students who were deprived of education in the academic year 2021- 2022 despite having been passed the eligibility test for admission to Class-VI as according Jawahar Navodaya Vidyala, the petitioners failed to establish their claim of having undertaken one year study during 2020-2021 in Class- V in an acknowledged school in Ratnagiri district. Consequently the petitioners in their writ petitions prayed for quashing the order dated February 25, 2022 whereby the petitioners were denied the admission for the aforesaid year. 

The petitioners contended that the respondents without giving notice of ten days to the petitioners for curing the deficiencies in the documents, issued a notice of hearing on December 29, 2021 and as a result denied the admission to the petitioners. Aggrieved by the same, the petitioners instituted the present writ petition. 

It was further submitted that the respondent ignored the contents of the admission form submitted by each petitioner. It was submitted that all the petitioners were admitted  in a recognized school in Class-V in the duration of August to October,2020. Referring to the provisions of the Right of Children To Free And Compulsory Education Act, 2009  and especially the provisions of Section 2 (a), (f), (h), (n) and (p) along with Section 15, it was submitted that no child could be denied admission in a School even if the same was sought subsequent to any extended period as may be prescribed. 

On the other hand, the Counsel for the respondents strenuously submitted that in view of Section 2(p) of the Act of 2009 the school of third respondent belonged to a specified category. It was further contended that the documents produced by the petitioners did not support their contention that they had undertaken studies in Class-V in the whole academic year. Merely because admissions could be made by September 2020, the same would not mean that the academic session would commence from that date, the Counsel for the respondents submitted.  Further attention was drawn to paragraph 7 of the affidavit in reply wherein it was urged that the petitioners had taken education up to Class-IV in different schools in Kolhapur district and therefore they were entitled to seek admission in the vicinity of any neighboring school in Kolhapur district itself.

After considering the submissions of the rival parties, the Court opined that the petitioners were entitled to get admitted to Class- VI in the school of the third respondent for the academic year 2020-21. It was further opined that each petitioner passed the entrance examination and the name of the petitioners were listed in the select list as well. The requisite documents were also submitted by the petitioners on October 8, 2021, the Court added. 

The Court further took into consideration the relevant provisions of the 2009 Act and reached to a conclusion that each child between the age of six to fourteen years has a right to free and compulsory education even if the same was sought beyond the extended period as prescribed. By virtue of Section 1(4) of the Act of 2009 each child must be provided free and compulsory education and the school  of the third  respondent is  also governed by the same act is not a disputed fact, the Court noted. 

The Court further took into consideration the Clauses of admission prospectus. Therein Clause 4.3 stated the process for denial of admission to students who were seeking admission to standard VI. It stated that a candidate who appears for a selection test must have studied in Class-V for the whole of the academic session 2020 – 2021. Keeping in view the same, each of the petitioner’s applications contained a certificate issued by the head of the school stating that the applicants were admitted in Class-V along with the dates mentioned therein. 

Further it was observed that the impugned communication dated March 25, 2020 by the Principal of the School also made reference to the Government Resolution dated June 15, 2020 wherein the manner in which the schools would function in phase wise manner was prescribed after relaxation of lock-down restrictions. It was further stated that the academic year was supposed to commence from June 15,2020 though the schooling activity of Class III-V was to commence from September 2020.

In pursuance of the same, it was noticed that the provisions of Section 15 were relevant and any child even admitted after the extended period as prescribed was permitted to complete his/ her studies in the manner as prescribed by the State Government.  Thusm the disputed fact in the instant case with respect to the credibility of the admission of the petitioners to Class-V raised only on the ground that each petitioner was granted admission after the commencement of the academic session dated June 15, 2020 was not questionable and did  not vitiate the credibility of the admissions of petitioners to Class-V. 

On a harmonious reading of the provisions of Sections 3 and 15 of the Act of 2009 along with the Government Resolutions in the context of Clause 4.3 of the Navodaya Vidyalaya Scheme, the Bench concluded that the denial of admission to the petitioners despite passed the Class-V examination and having cleared the eligibility test in the form of JNVST, was wholly unjustified.

Thus, taking into account all the material available on record it was clear that the petitioners were admitted to Class-V. The certificate of the same was indeed issued by the Headmaster of the respective schools attended by these petitioners affirming the admission.  Therefore, the impugned communication dated March 25, 2022 by the Principal of the third respondent-School was set aside and was held to be contrary to provisions of Section 15 of the Act of 2009.  Further directions were issued to respondents to take all necessary steps to ensure that the petitioners complete their curriculum in standard VI for the academic year 2021-2022. 

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