Schools shall Remain Secular
In a significant Judgement the High Court of
Kerala held that no Schools seeking recognition in Kerala can provide
instruction in only one religion while excluding other faiths.
The High Court was considering the writ petition filed by the Trustee, Hidaya Educational and Charitable Trust against the Order of the Government to close down the School after it was found to be functioning without recognition and to be imparting exclusive religious instruction after admitting students from a particular community alone. The Court observed that the schools imparting elementary education were discharging a State function and therefore bound by the principles of secularism.
The Court has considered the correlation between the minority rights and secularism. The Court has said that the minority rights under Article 30 do not provide any permission to dilute the secular nature of education. These rights cannot override the basic values of the Constitution. The status of minority institutions in relation to imparting elementary education is relatable to State function. Minority institutions, therefore, cannot shrug off their role as State functionaries and protect sectarian education under the garb of Article 29 and 30.
The Court has also considered the issue in the perspective of Fundamental Right to Education under Article 21 A of the Constitution and the Right to Free and Compulsory Education Act. The RTE Act was enacted by the Parliament after the insertion of Article 21A in the Constitution. Section 29 of the Act has mandated the curriculum and evaluation procedure should be as laid down by the appropriate authority to be specified by the Government. Appropriate authority in relation to school within the State is the State Government. In such circumstances, no school which is required to have recognition shall impart any religious instruction or religious study without permission from the Government.
The Court held as follows : 1) No School which is required to have recognition under the RTE Act is entitled to impart religious instructions or religious study of one religion exclusively in preference to other religion.
2) The private School which requires recognition is entitled to impart religious instruction or study based on religious pluralism after obtaining permission from the State Government.
As the issue is of great significance, the Court has directed the Secretary of General Education Department to issue a general Government Order directing all recognized private schools in the State to desist from imparting religious instruction or religious study without permission from the Government.