The Delhi High Court today accepted an argument that a citizen cannot be deprived of the right to establish and administer an educational institution unless the legislator in his wisdom decides to impose a reasonable restriction in the general public interest to the exercise of this fundamental right.
Judge Rekha Palli observed that any restriction on the exercise of right under Section 19 (1) (g) of the Constitution of India can only be imposed by law and that anything which is not in accordance with the law would fall under the power of section 19(6).
The Court therefore accepted the assertion that the requirement of Article 19(6) can only be satisfied by the introduction of a legislative provision either in the law or in the regulations and not simply by the publication of a circular or a political decision taken by an authority, however high.
The Court made these observations while allowing a series of grounds challenging the decision of the National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE) to refuse to open its online web portal for the submission of applications from institutions wishing to apply for recognition of teacher training courses.
The Court held that a simple decision by the general body of NCTE, composed of experts, to impose a total ban or a simple inaction not to open the portal for years, cannot be considered as falling within the scope of the term “law” as contemplated under Article 19, paragraph 6.
He directed the Council to open the online portal within two weeks and then accept and process applications in a timely manner as they may be submitted for the award of recognition for conduct new teaching courses for the 2022-23 academic session.
“Even if, prima facie, it appears that the imposition of a total ban on the commencement of new teaching courses does not fall strictly within the power of the respondents to regulate and coordinate teacher education, I am of the view that even if this plea were to be granted, the fact remains that the fundamental right of a citizen to establish educational establishments cannot, under article 19, paragraph 6, be restricted only by means of a legislative act.” the Court observed.
The NCTE had argued that the policy decision they had taken was in line with the central government’s NEP 2020, which amounted to an instruction under Art. 29 of the National Council for Teacher Education Act 1993.
Responding to said assertion, the Court observed that NEP policy emphasized the creation of a group of teachers who “shaping the next generation by ensuring teachers are equipped with multidisciplinary perspectives and knowledge. » However, he added that the policy in no way suggests that there should be a complete halt to the recognition of new teacher education courses for consecutive years.
“Even though the petitioners have vehemently insisted that the NEP, 2020 cannot be regarded as an instruction from the central government to the NCTE as provided for in Section 29 of the Act, I do not find it necessary to address this aspect for I note that the NEP, 2020, in no way suggests that no new course or private educational institution should be recognized for years together, nor does this action of the NCTE in imposing a virtual mortarboard at the beginning of new teacher training courses by private institutions, to be in pursuit of the objectives sought by the NEP, 2020, “ the Court observed.
The Court also noted that the UNESCO report titled “State of Education Report for India-2021” as well as the NEP 2020 clearly reflect the acute shortage of qualified teachers in our country, which was still grappling with the problem of illiteracy in several Regions.
“Despite this, the NCTE, which is required by law to ensure the maintenance of high standards for teacher education institutions, instead of imposing higher standards for their establishment and operation, seeks to impose a total ban on potential candidates Such a ban which has been brazenly made applicable to at least 92% of teacher training institutions, will in fact lead to an even greater shortage of trained teachers in the country and will aggravate an already existing crisis. NEP, 2020 but will also be against the interest of the general public,“said the Court.
In view of the above observations, the pleas were allowed.
Case Title: MEHTA TEACHER TRAINING COLLEGE v. NATIONAL COUNCIL FOR TEACHER TRAINING & ANR. and other related petitions
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