‘But where are the schools?’: SC on instituting Right to Education

The Supreme Court on Wednesday said the Right to Education Act is a classic example where a right was created, but questioned where were the schools?

Against the backdrop of this Act, the top court observed that the government should always bear in mind the financial impact, before developing any scheme.

A bench, headed by Justice U.U. Lalit and comprising Justices S.R. Bhat and P.S. Narasimha, told Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati, representing the Centre: “You have created a right. Where are the schools?”

It further added that various authorities, including municipalities, state governments etc., were tasked to set up schools, but where do they get teachers from? Often, budget constraints are cited, it said.

The bench also emphasised that the scenario needs to be examined in totality, otherwise it becomes mere lip service. It suggested that the government should always evaluate the financial impact before it comes up with schemes or ideas.

The top court was hearing a plea seeking adequate infrastructure to provide effective legal aid to women abused in matrimonial homes and also to create shelter homes for them, across the country.

Bhati said substantial progress has been made and there were a lot of parleys and consultations with all states, and added that the Central government needs to keep all states in the loop.

The bench noted that revenue officers, in some states, are working as protection officers in terms of the Act. Bhati sought some time to place the details in the matter, as per court’s earlier direction.

Emphasising on evaluating financial impact, the bench said: “We don’t want multiplicity of grievances… states’ resources may not match up to what you require.”

On the aspect of the petition, the bench said statistical analysis would be required to assess the requirement in a particular state, in connection with shelter homes. Bhati said a status report could be filed giving all the details.

The bench gave two weeks to the Centre to bring on record necessary details in the matter and scheduled it for further hearing on April 26.

The plea filed by “We The Women of India” had contended that domestic violence continues to be the most common crime against women, despite the Domestic Violence Act, 2005. The plea added that as per National Crime Records Bureau report for the year 2019, out of 4.05 lakh reported cases categorised under acrimes against women, and over 30 per cent were domestic violence cases.

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