RTE envisages quality education to children: Supreme Court

The Supreme Court has said that the right to education guaranteed under Article 21A of the Constitution would envisage quality education being imparted to the children and for that the teachers must be meritorious and the best of the lot.

The observation was made by the apex court while giving nod to the decision of the Uttar Pradesh government to fix the cut off at 65-60 per cent in Assistant Teacher Recruitment Examination (ATRE)-2019.

The top court said that the endeavour on part of the State in attempting to secure the best of the teachers was therefore fully justified and allowed the state government to fill up all the vacancies for 69,000 assistant basic teachers as per the results it declared on May 12, this year.

A bench of Justices U U Lalit and M M Shantanagoudar said that the fixation of cut off at 65-60 per cent in ATRE-2019 was perfectly valid and justified and “Considering the large number of candidates who appeared at ATRE-2019 as well as the nature and difficulty level of the examination, the cut off was designed to draw the best available talent”.

It said, “the endeavour on part of the State in attempting to secure the best of the teachers was therefore fully justified. It needs no emphasis that the right to education guaranteed in terms of Article 21A of the Constitution would envisage quality education being imparted to the children which in turn, would signify that the teachers must be meritorious and the best of the lot”.

The bench, which dismissed a batch of petitions filed by ‘Shiksha Mitras’ against the Allahabad High Court’s last year order which had upheld the state government’s decision of fixing 65/60 per cent cut off marks said, “any process which applied equally to all the candidates and was designed to garner the best talent, cannot be called arbitrary or irrational”.

The order in the matter was pronounced by the bench on Wednesday.

It said, “we do not find any illegality or impropriety in fixation of cut off at 65-60 per cent vide order dated January 7, 2019. The facts on record indicate that even with this cut off the number of qualified candidates is more than twice the number of vacancies available”.

The bench said that that after considering the nature and difficulty level of examination, the number of candidates who appeared, the concerned authorities have the requisite power to select a criteria which may enable getting the best available teachers.

Such endeavour will certainly be consistent with the objectives under the RTE Act, it said.

The top court said that “In the circumstances, we affirm the view taken by the division bench of the High Court and conclude that in the present case, the fixation of cut off at 65-60 per cent, even after the examination was over, cannot be said to be impermissible. In our considered view, the government was well within its rights to fix such cut off”.

The bench took note of the submission of Uttar Pradesh government that it was willing to give one more opportunity to ‘Shiksha Mitras’ to qualify in the next ATRE exams. “We leave it to the discretion of the State Government to consider the manner and the modalities in which such opportunity can be availed of. Needless to say, the matter in that behalf is entirely left to the discretion of the State Government,” it said.