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“Education is the strongest mechanism for the development of human beings. It helps in the enlargement, enrichment and improvement of the people image for the future. It is said that a man without education is no more than an animal.”[1]


Education emancipates that the human beings and leads to liberty from ignorance. It was clearly observed by the Pestalozzi, education is the random process of development of that empowers the man who are natural, harmonious and progressive. It 21st Century, 'a nation's ability to transform knowledge into wealth and social good by the phenomenon of innovation is going to overcome its future,' accordingly 21st Century is termed as century of knowledge.


The most significant factors in winning the goals of the country in field of development is Education. Human resources ventures when there is education .It should be properly administered so that it could reach to the common people.[2]


The Modern age of Science and Technology, it has been anonymously realized that one’s requirements to be educated is not only to turn out to be a better man and better social being. To be recognized as the main tool of socio economic changes the Education has to be moving forward. That the reason it has been rightly emphasized that the destiny of a nation is to be shaped by quantity and quality of students coming out of schools and colleges. As an instrument of development and for strengthening the values of democracy the education has been already accepted.


As the Human rights were the rights which are very basic in nature and entitled to every human being, irrespective of his nationality, place of residence, sex, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, language, or any other status. These rights includes right to life, equality before the law, freedom of expression, the right to work, right to social security, right to education, collective rights, such as the rights to development and self-determination, etc. Therefore as it is evident from the above that human rights are inseparable, interrelated and interdependent. The improvement in field of one’s right makes the progress of the others possible. Correspondingly, the denial of one’s right has the negating affects on the others progress. The term human right is right to life with dignity is the basic requirement for humanity. Since for assuring every child a quality education that not only respects but also promotes her or his right to dignity and optimum development a human rights-based approach to education is to be therefore necessitated. The agenda of the international community for right to education is not only a human right in itself but also is prerequisite for the exercise of all other human rights and for this right to education is to be marked priority.[3]


Lastly human rights in Indian Legal Parlance funds the rights relating to life of individual, his/her liberty, equality and also the dignity guaranteed by the constitution embodies in the international covenants and enforceable by courts in India. Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer, while speaking upon the topic expressed viewed that the Human rights are those irreducible minimal rights which belong to each of the human race while citing against the State authorities or other public authorities or group of other oppressive communities. Being a member of the human fraternity, every human has the right to be treated as a ‘human’, once he took the birth or declared o be alive in the womb has this title of personhood.[4]


One of the most important functions of the State consisting of aiding education to its citizens is to provide quality education and higher education. At various levels are very commonly based on the view that education is a human right. However it is not tricky to see that from the perception of human rights, the various levels of education do not in fact enjoy the same status. In order to scrutinize the legitimacy of arguments relating to the status of right to education it is significant to make a distinction among diverse levels of education and study whether human rights considerations entail the prerequisite of education at all levels[5]


The importance of education as a means for emancipation of human beings and liberating them from ignorance has for long time been accepted in national and international legal systems. With this in focus efforts have also been made to educate people and thereby contribute to the development of society consistent with the dignity of society. Internationally, the importance of right to education received much appreciation in the U N Declaration of Human Rights, 1948 and later instruments like International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural rights, the Convention against Discrimination in Education, 1962 etc.[6]


Indian Approach

Our constitutional makers to make the right to education a constitutional goal and placed it under Part IV directive principles of state policy. Accordingly article 41, 45 and 46 of the constitution dealt with various aspects of right to education. But the inability of the constitutional provisions to achieve the object of free and compulsory education often led to conflict with judicial policy in this respect. An exposition of this conflict requires a close look at the development of the legislative and corresponding judicial approach as addressed by the Supreme Court in this area.[7]


Relevant Case Laws-

Mohini Jain Vs. State of Karnataka[8] The Supreme Court held that Right to education is fundamental right under Article 21 of the Constitution. The right to education springs from right to life. The right to life under Article 21 and the dignity of the individual cannot fully be appreciated without the enjoyment of right to education. The Court observed: The Court held the fee to be an arbitrary and unequal action in violation of Article 21, and stated; “We think that the right to life includes the right to live with human dignity and all that goes along with it, namely the bare necessaries of life such as adequate nutrition, clothing and shelter and facilities for reading, writing and expressing oneself.’ Note that the limiting clause in Article 21 is not applicable because the capitation fee was not established by law, rather by the policy of a medical school.”[9]


Unni Krishan Vs. State of Andhra Pradesh[10] The Supreme Court struck down the Mohini Jain ruling and held that the right to education up to the age of 14 years was a fundamental right. The Court argued that this right flowed from Article 21, which guaranteed the fundamental right to life. In 1950, the Constitution had set a time limit of 10 years in which the right was to be given effect. But as this goal had not been met, ‘we think that the Court should step in’. That is what the Court did; they declared that every child had a right to free education till the age or 14 years.[11]

The Apex Court, however, limited the State obligation to provide educational facilities as follows:-

  1. Every children of this Country has a right to free education until he completes the age of fourteen years;
  2. Beyond that stage, his right to education is subject to the limits of the economic capacity of the state.[12]


In M. C. Mehta Vs. State of Tamil Nadu[13] This petition was filed by M.C. Mehta, a public spirited lawyer, invoking the writ jurisdiction of Supreme Court under and under Article 24 of the Constitution against violation of legal prohibitions on employment of child labour in matches and fireworks factories in Sivakasi. The Court while finding that poverty is the basic reason which compels parents of child despite their unwillingness to get them employed highlighted that Article 45 mandates compulsory education for all children until they completed age of 14 years - it also required to be free - State Government should see that adult member of family whose child is in employment in factory or mine or in other hazardous work gets job anywhere in lieu of child, is another case where the Supreme Court of India has reaffirmed the importance of right to education as a   fundamental right .This writ petition besides invoking Article 24 which is a fundamental right was equally made to rest on Article 45, which has been raised to the status of a fundamental right after the Unni Krishnan decision in 1993.[14]


Ashok Kumar Thakur Vs. Union of India[15] Observed as under:-[16] “It has become necessary that the Government set a realistic target within which it must fully implement Article 21A regarding free and compulsory education for the entire country. The Government should suitably revise budget allocations for education. The priorities have to be set correctly. The most important fundamental right may be Article 21A, which, in the larger interest of the nation, must be fully implemented. Without Article 21A, the other fundamental rights are effectively rendered meaningless. Education stands above other rights, as one’s ability to enforce one’s fundamental rights flows from one’s education. This is ultimately why the judiciary must oversee Government spending on free and compulsory education.”

In Avinash Mehrotra Vs. Union of India and Ors[17] The judgment of the court was delivered by Dalveer Bhandari J. and Lokeshwar Singh Panta J. The Court observed that in view of the importance of Article 21A, it is imperative that the education which is provided to children in the primary schools should be in the environment of safety. It has become imperative that each school must follow the bare minimum safety standards, in addition to the compliance of the National Building Code of India, 2005, in particular Part IV - Fire & Life Safety and the Code of Practice of Fire Safety in Educational Institutions (IS 14435:1997) of the Bureau of Indian Standards.



Then as now, we recognize education’s “transcendental importance” in the lives of individuals and in the very survival of our Constitution and Republic. Education remains essential to the life of the individual, as much as health and dignity, and the State must provide it, comprehensively and completely, in order to satisfy its highest duty to citizens. The apex court held that Articles 21 and 21-A of the Constitution requires that India’s school children receive education in safe schools. The court has time again stepped into the shoes of legislature by giving the aforementioned directions. The right to education has to move towards progress as only primary education is made compulsory and free, the secondary education and other higher levels still lag behind. The problem of drop outs even at primary level need to be solved. We can firmly believe that the apex court will always remain the guarantor of fundamental rights such as right to education and will guide the legislature and the executive when questions, such as in instant case are brought before it.[18]






[1] Available at http://www.legalservicesindia.com/articles/edu_pes.htm

[2] National Policy on education and literacy in India, K.V. Singh, Ed. 2007 visata International Publishing House New Delhi:; p-3,

[3] HUMAN RIGHTS VIS-À-VIS IGHT TO EDUCATION IN INDIAN CONTEXT: PROBLEM AND ISSUE; Theme: Social justice; Sub Theme: Scaling up Quality Education to all; by Prof. Elumalai (Director, School of law, IGNOU) & Deepthi S. Nair (Legal Consultant, School of Law, IGNOU); p-1-2

[4] V.R Krishna Iyer, The Dialectics and Dynamics of Human Rights in India- Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow-Tagore law lectures, (Calcutta: Eastern Law House, 1999)54

[5] Contemporary issues and Ideas in Social Science January 2005; The Right to Education : Some Theoretical Issues; By Rajendra P. Kundu; Delhi School of Economics; University of Delhi, Delhi 110007, India;p-8

[6] Available at http://lawatindia.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=16;only-right-to-education-in-india&catid=28;current-users&Itemid=44

[7] Available at http://lawatindia.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=16;only-right-to-education-in-india&catid=28;current-users&Itemid=44

[8] AIR 1992 SC 1858,(1992)3 SCC 666

[9] Available at http://www.legalserviceindia.com/articles/edu_pes.htm

[10] AIR 1993 SC 2178, (1993) 1 SCC 645

[11] The crisis of elementary education in India; Ravi kumar; 1st edition; SAGE Publications New Delhi, thousands oaks, London; p-68

[12] Available at http://www.legalserviceindia.com/articles/edu_pes.htm

[13] AIR 1993 SC 2178, (1993)1 SCC 645

[14] Right to education in India: the conflicting legislative and judicial policy;written by Lawat India

[15] 2008(5) SCALE1, (2008) 6 SCC1

[16] Case comment on Avinash Mehrotra v Union of India & Others(2009) 6 SCC 398

[17] 2009(5) SCALE 354, (2009)6 SCC 398

[18] Available at http://jurisonline.in/2011/03/case-comment-on-avinash-mehrotra-v-union-of-india-others-2009-6-sec-398


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