HC closes PIL on education rights of special needs children

Jammu and Kashmir High Court has closed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) seeking guidelines for admission of Children with Special Needs (CWSN) under Right to Education Act.

While closing the PIL, a division bench of Justice Ali Muhammad Magrey and Justice Vinod Chatterji Koul observed that given the stated position “there was no requirement of issuing any specific directions with regard to the relief claimed by the petitioners in the petition”.

The bench, however, hoped and trusted that the authorities in the government tasked with the duty of ensuring implementation of central laws relating to the subject matter of the instant PIL “would make all efforts to ensure implementation of such laws in letter and spirit”.

The bench made it clear that in case the petitioners still feel dissatisfied with any action or inaction on the part of the authorities of Jammu and Kashmir despite application of the relevant Central laws to the UT, they shall be at liberty to approach the appropriate forum as may be available to them in accordance with law.

The court closed the PIL after Tahir Majid Shamsi, Assistant Solicitor General of India submitted that with the coming into force of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Act which made applicable the Central laws to J&K as well as well as Ladakh, the subject matter of the instant PIL turned infructuous.  The rules and guidelines with regard to the grievance projected by the petitioners, he said, were notified in terms of the applicable Central laws.

Senior AAG B A Dar said that all efforts would be made by the Government to implement all such Central laws as were made applicable to Jammu and Kashmir including the laws relating to the subject of the PIL.

The PIL was filed in 2020 by two social activists namely Zaheer Abbas Jan and Mudasir Shaban Dar, and Dr Chitanjeet Kour, a physiotherapist, through advocate Hasnain M Khwja and advocate Syed Musaib.

The petitioners said Parliament amended part 4 of the Constitution of India and incorporated Article 21-A, a new Article to incorporate Right to Education of a child between six to 14 years as their fundamental right.

The PIL also sought directions for ensuring the admission, attendance and free education to children with benchmark disability and removal of other barriers preventing them from getting quality education in recognized unaided private schools of J&K.

They submitted in 2009 Parliament enacted Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, a follow up legislation for implementing the provision of Article 21-A of the Constitution.

“The special provision for the EWS/DG/CWSN children has been incorporated in the Act itself to address the practical difficulty,” they said.

They submitted that in 2012 provisions of Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act was interpreted by Supreme Court that each and every child between six to 14 years has their fundamental right of not only education but quality education.

They also submitted that the PIL was for the benefit of thousands of children with special need who are not able to have access to quality education in their neighbourhood schools as per their rights and entitlements under Right of Children to free and Compulsory Education Act.