Child cannot be denied promotion to higher class on grounds of inadequate academic performance

Kerala High Court: In a significant decision A.K. Jayasankaran Nambiar, J., while dealing with the issue that, whether the respondent school in the light of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 and the Kerala Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Rules, 2011, can refuse to promote any student undergoing an elementary education to a higher class on the ground of inadequate academic performance, held that the statutory mandate under Sections 13, 16 and 17 of the Right to Education Act does not permit the respondent school to detain the petitioner’s child on the ground of unsatisfactory academic performance, as the fundamental right of a child to elementary education which stems from Article 21-A of the Constitution and read with the Act concerned and the Rules, cannot be made conditional on a child who has failed to obtain the minimum marks as prescribed by the school.

The aggrieved mother approached the Court via the present petition, as her son was not promoted to Class VII by the Vidyodaya School authorities for failing to attain the minimum qualifying standards as set by the school. The petitioner was represented by Mary Benjamin, while K.G. Kannanathnam appeared for the respondent school.

The Court perused the concerned Sections of the Right to Education Act read with the relevant State Rules and observed, that the provisions make it very clear that once a student has been admitted to a recognized school, then he/she must progress through the various stages of elementary education and should not be held back or expelled until and unless the elementary education is complete. The Court further observed that the academic performance of the student in any year can be of no significance when the statute mandates that a student must receive compulsory education during the years between Class II and Class VIII. Kitty Sanil v. State of Kerala, 2015 SCC OnLine Ker 11303 , decided on 25.05.2015

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