If in the decision making process there is non-compliance of the statutory provisions, illegality, and irregularity, the Court can interfere: High Court of Orissa

The Court can exercise its power of judicial review if the notification issued is unconstitutional and de hors the provisions of rules and regulations and more so the executive policy is contrary to the constitutional mandate and statutory rules. This was held in School Managing Committee of Amaramunda Govt. Primary School V. State of Odisha & Others [W.P.(C) No. 27401 of 2020] in the High Court of Orissa by the single bench consisting of JUSTICE B.R.SARANGI.

Facts are that the petitioner  Government Primary School is catering education to the need of local children of that area, basing upon the Government order dated 27.08.2020, the Block Education Officer, Agalpur, directed for merger/ consolidation with regard to implementation of guidelines for the policy of rationalization and consolidation of schools. Writ petitions have been filed by the petitioners essentially seek to quash the notification.

The counsel for the petitioner contended that even if the impugned notifications, as referred to above, are outcome of a policy decision of the State Government, the same can be subject matter of judicial review, if the same are illegal, irrational and contrary to the provisions of law.

The Court made reference to judgement of Apex co.urt in Society for Unaided Private Schools of Rajasthan v. Union of India, wherein  the following observation had been made ,“At the outset, we may reiterate that Article 21-A of the Constitution provides that the State shall provide free and compulsory education to all children of the specified age in such manner as the State may, by law, determine. Thus, the primary obligation to provide free and compulsory education to all children of the specified age is on the State. However, the manner in which this obligation will be discharged by the State has been left to the State to determine by law. The State may do so through its own schools or through aided schools or through private schools, so long as the law made in this regard does not transgress any other constitutional limitation. This is because Article 21-A vests the power in the State to decide the manner in which it will provide free and compulsory education to the specified category of children. As stated, the 2009 Act has been enacted pursuant to Article 21-A.”

The court also made reference to the judgement of  Vinod Kumar Koul vrs. State of  Jammu and Kashmir, where in it was held that, “ In our view, the administrative decision of the Board, which is ex facie inconsistent with the plain language of Rule 13(i), could not have been relied upon for determining the eligibility of the appellant for appointment as the Laboratory Assistant in District Udhampur and the learned Single Judge and the Division Bench of the High Court committed serious error by negating the appellant’s challenge to the decision of the Selection Committee not to consider his candidature and that too by overlooking the fact that at the time of submission of application, the appellant was residing in District Udhampur, which is an integral part of the State of Jammu and Kashmir.”

Considering the precedents and the facts of the case the Court held that,  the authorities have not taken note of the provisions contained in Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 and Rules, 2010. Therefore, the Court has jurisdiction to interfere. In view of such power, this Court examined the government notification and consequential office memorandum and found that both are violative of statutory provisions governing the field thus are liable to be quashed.

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