BANGALORE: The Karnataka High Court on Wednesday ordered notice to the state and central governments in a PIL challenging the state government's recent notification stipulating that schools seeking minority status should have at least 25 per cent students belonging to the respective community - down from 75 percent earlier.
The PIL, filed by the Azim Premji Foundation, Bangalore, said for a school to get the minority tag, 75 per cent of its students should be from the respective community. It also sought for making other provisions of The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009 applicable to minority schools.
"Exempting minority schools from the entire RTE Act will undermine the fundamental right to education of a child," the petitioner said. The petitioner pointed out that about 10 % of the private schools in Karnataka have been declared as minorities, so they will not be obligated to follow the minimum quality education norms and standards if they are exempted from the entire RTE Act.
Hearing the PIL, a division bench of chief justice DH Waghela asked both the government advocate as well as the counsel for the petitioner to apprise the court of the situation in other states.
It also ordered notice to the National Commission of Minority Education, the National Commission for Minorities and the Karnataka State Minorities Commission in response to the petition.
When the court asked why the state had drastically reduced the percentage of students to 25 per cent, the government advocate said it was found that in some minority institutions, like those belonging to Sindhis, even that number of students is not available.
However, the bench then asked why the government did not embark upon categorization to help microscopic minorities instead of blanket reduction of intake. The government advocate replied saying he would obtain necessary instructions in this regard.
Challenging the state government's notification issued on June 18, the petition said, "This order does not disclose any justification for the 25% limit and is completely arbitrary and contrary to the decisions laid down by the Supreme Court that in order to preserve minority character, educational institutions must primarily cater to students from that minority."
According to a report prepared by the state government for 2010-11, Karnataka has 10,960 private unaided schools and 2,567 private aided schools. Out of this, minority status recognition is granted to 1,059 schools.