New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the constitutional validity of the Right to Education (RTE) that mandates unaided private schools to earmark 25 percent seats for students from economically and socially weaker sections of society.

READ MORE: ‘Give disabled children a choice in RTE'

Kapil Sibal lauds SC verdict on RTE

However, the court made it clear that the act would not be applicable to unaided minority schools.

The Apex Court bench of Chief Justice S.H. Kapadia and Justice Swatanter Kumar upheld the constitutional validity of Section 12 1C of the right to education (RTE) act that provides 25 percent reservation for students from weaker sections of society.

However, Justice K.S. Radhakrishnan, in a dissenting judgment, held that the mandate under RTE providing for reservation of seats was not constitutionally valid, thus none of the unaided schools, be it of majority or minority, could be compelled to earmark 25 percent seats in their institutions for weaker sections.The court said the judgment will come into force from Thursday itself, but the admissions already made will not be disturbed.

The three-judge bench had reserved its verdict on August 3, last year on a batch of petitions by private unaided institutions which had contended that the Act violates the rights of private educational institutions under Article 19(1)(g) which provided autonomy to private managements to run their institutions without governmental interference.

Centre defends the law

During the marathon arguments in the case which went for many months, the Centre had defended the law, saying it was aimed at uplifting the socially and economically weaker sections of the society.

The Centre had emphasised the need to delink merit and talent from social and economic differences among different sections of society and said that the Act calls for "moving towards composite classrooms with children from diverse backgrounds, rather than homogeneous and exclusivist schools".

The main petitioner Society for Unaided Private Schools, Rajasthan, and a host of associations representing various private schools, had questioned the validity of the Act on the ground that it impinged on their rights to run the educational institutions.

The law was brought by introducing Article 21(A) in the Constitution which says the state shall provide free and compulsory education to all children between six and 14 years in such a manner as the state may, by law, determine.

The petitions had contended that the RTE Act was "unconstitutional" and "violative" of fundamental rights.

According to the petitioners, Section 3 of the Act imposed an absolute mandate on all schools, including private unaided and minority institutions, to admit without any choice each and every child whosoever comes to take admission in the schools in the neighbourhood.