State obliged to facilitate access to education: Supreme Court

What is the News?

The Supreme Court has said that the State has an affirmative obligation to facilitate access to education, at all levels.

What was the case?
  • 2 students from Ladakh filed a petition in the Supreme Court. The Union Territory administration for MBBS studies nominated them.
  • They were allocated seats in the prestigious Lady Hardinge and Maulana Azad medical colleges. However, they were not admitted.
  • Hence, the students moved to the court saying their fundamental right to education was at risk of the government authorities.
What has the Supreme Court said?
  • Firstly, the court ordered that the students be admitted within a week. It was government policy to allot one seat each at Lady Hardinge and Maulana Azad medical colleges from the Central pool.
  • Secondly, the court held that the Right to pursue higher(professional) education is not a fundamental right in Part III of the Constitution. But the State has an affirmative obligation to facilitate access to education at all levels.
  • Further, the court cited the recommendations of the Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR Committee). The committee was formed to monitor the implementation of the UN Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights(ratified by India in 1979). The committee stated that:
    • “As an empowerment right, education is the primary vehicle by which economically and socially marginalized adults and children can lift themselves out of poverty and obtain the means to participate fully in their communities”.

Source: The Hindu

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