The Supreme Court has permitted the upgradation of a school from lower primary (LP) to upper primary by observing that children cannot walk more than three kilometres just to attend school.
“We cannot expect children in the age group of 10 to 14 years to walk 3 to 6 kilometres or more to attend school. The right of education up to the age of 14 years is now a fundamental right under article 21A of the Constitution of India and if this right is to be meaningful, then efforts must be made to open upper primary schools in such a manner that no child has to walk 3 kilometres or more only to attend school,” the SC bench observed.
A bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta was deciding on the issue of an LP school at Parappanagadi in Malappuram district, where the government had granted licence to upgrade it to upper primary but the decision was challenged by managers of another school in the Kerala High Court.
A single bench of the High Court accepted the contention and set aside the order of upgradation, but the apex court overruled the High Court and ordered to restore the government decision.
The other school managers challenged the upgradation of the LP school based on the Kerala Education Rules, 1959. But the court observed that government had the right to grant relaxation.
Court pointed out a section from the Kerala Education Rules which says, “Where the Government is satisfied that the operation of any rule under these Rules causes undue hardship in any particular case, the Government may dispense with or relax the requirements of that rule to such extent and subject to such conditions as they may consider necessary for dealing with the case in a just and equitable manner.”