Karnataka High Court in Education Rights Trust v. State of Karnataka & Another upheld the constitutionality of amendment of Rule 4 of Karnataka Right of Children to Free & Compulsory Education Rules, 2012, holding that
"Education under Article 21A of the Constitution is a fundamental right but petitioners/students have no right of admission to private schools, as long as the government schools, local authorities' schools or aided schools are available in the neighbourhood."
Bench of Justice L. Narayana Swamy and Justice P.S.Dinesh Kumar upheld the government policy while hearing writ petitions in the form of public interest litigation to declare the amendment of Rule 4 of the of Karnataka Right of Children to Free & Compulsory Education Rules, 2012, as null and void on the ground that the same is in violation of fundamental rights of children guaranteed under Article 21-A of the Constitution of India. Challenged amendment precludes identification of schools under the Right to Education Act, wherever there exists a government school or an aided school.
Court accepting the contention of the Advocate General said that AG is right in his submission that the State Government or the local authorities are under the obligation to identify schools as per relevant provisions only if there are no schools in the neighbourhood. It said that if petitioner's contention is to be accepted, the State Government will be compelled to reimburse astronomical figures. Court said further that argument on behalf of the petitioners that children entitled for seat under the RTE Act may choose an unaided school in the neighbourhood though there exist government and aided schools is fallacious.
Court said that the judicial review on administrative or legislative actions is permissible only where policy is faulty on the ground of unreasonableness or is arbitrary. It said that respondents' retain the power as provided under the provisions of the Act to amend rules and since the provisions allow the government to amend Rule, Rule 4 got amended. It said further that unless and until there is arbitrariness, mala fides etc., are found, it is impermissible for the court interfere in such matters.
Court found support in judgment of Supreme Court in Ugar Sugar Works Ltd., v. Delhi Admn. (2001) 3 SCC, in which apex court said that "it is well settled that the courts, in exercise of their power of judicial review, do not ordinarily interfere with the policy decisions of the executive unless the policy can be faulted on the grounds of mala fide, unreasonableness, arbitrariness or unfairness etc."
Court also made a reference, on the point, to the judgment of Apex Court in Krishnan Kakkanth v. Government of Kerala & others (1987) 9 SCC, wherein court had laid down that "it should be borne in mind that except for the limited purpose of testing a public policy in the context of illegality and unconstitutionality, courts should avoid 'embarking on uncharted ocean of public policy.'
Court found in the light of above mentioned judgments that petitioners failed to make out a case and failed to show arbitrariness, mala fides, or violation of law etc. Court held that impugned action of respondents in bringing the amendment is neither unconstitutional nor arbitrary nor it contravenes any right envisaged.
Refusing to grant prayer of petitioners and accepting contention of the respondents, court said that if prayer is granted, the functioning of schools established by the government, local authorities and the aided schools would be at stake. It accordingly rejected the writ petitions.
Petitioners were represented by advocate Manasi Sharma with advocate Nimisha Kumar and respondents by AG Udaya Holla along with AAG D. Nagaraj in the case.