The High Court of Bombay passed a judgement on 18 April 2023. In the case of SHRI KRISH RAJENDRA CHORDIYA Vs THE STATE OF MAHARASHTRA THR ITS MINISTRY OF SCHOOL EDUCATION AND ORS IN CRIMINAL REVISION APPLICATION NO. 131 OF 2022 which was passed by a division bench comprising of HONOURABLE SHRI JUSTICE G.S. PATEL and DR. NEELA KEDAR GOKHALE. Education is a fundamental right that paves the way for a bright future. However, there are times when students find themselves entangled in complex situations that threaten their educational journey.
FACTS OF THE CASE:
The petitioner, a diligent 17-year-old student, had successfully completed his 10th standard examination under the ICSE Board. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown, he was unable to immediately enroll in a college. During this period, he took the initiative to develop a digital app related to COVID-19 tracking, showcasing his technical and scientific abilities.
Later, when the petitioner sought admission to a junior college for the 11th and 12th standard Science stream, he applied to the 5th Respondent college, as it was closer to his residence. The petitioner and his father followed the college’s instructions, filled in the online application form, and indicated their choice as the 5th Respondent college. Subsequently, the petitioner received an allotment letter from the Deputy Director of Education, confirming his seat in the Science stream of the 5th Respondent college.
The petitioner successfully completed his 11th standard, performed exceptionally well in examinations, and even secured provisional admission to prestigious engineering and technical colleges through competitive entrance exams. However, to his utter dismay, just before the HSC examination, the 5th Respondent college informed him that his admission had been cancelled by an order from the 4th Respondent, the Maharashtra State Board of Secondary and Higher Education.
Several crucial laws come into play in this case:
- Maharashtra Secondary and Higher Secondary Boards Act, 1965: This act establishes the framework for secondary and higher secondary education in Maharashtra, including the powers and functions of the state boards and admission regulations for junior colleges.
- Regulation 16 of the Maharashtra State Board: This regulation stipulates the eligibility criteria for admission to the Science stream in junior colleges. It requires candidates to secure a minimum of 40% marks in science subjects in the SSC examination or its equivalent.
- Right to Education Act, 2009: While not directly applicable in this case, this legislation emphasizes the importance of providing equal educational opportunities and safeguarding the rights of students.
- The principle of natural justice: This principle, derived from common law, ensures fair treatment and procedural fairness in administrative and judicial proceedings. It requires that individuals be given an opportunity to be heard and to present their case before any adverse decisions are made.
- Constitutional rights: The Indian Constitution guarantees certain fundamental rights, including the right to education (Article 21A) and the right to equality (Article 14). These rights play a significant role in shaping educational policies and ensuring that students are not arbitrarily denied admission or subjected to unfair treatment.
Examining the facts of the case and the relevant laws, it becomes evident that the petitioner’s situation raises compelling questions. The 4th Respondent argues that the petitioner is ineligible for admission, citing the applicable regulations. However, it is crucial to consider the coordination and responsibility of both the 4th and 5th Respondents in informing the petitioner of his ineligibility before granting him admission.
Furthermore, the petitioner’s exceptional academic performance, completion of 11th and 12th standards, and success in competitive entrance exams highlight his commitment and aptitude for studying Science. The rigidity and tardiness of the 4th Respondent’s approach appear incongruent with the evolving National Education Policy, which emphasizes flexible learning options and nurturing individual potential.
The principle of natural justice demands that students be given a fair opportunity to present their case. Additionally, constitutional rights, such as the right to education and equality, serve as guiding principles in shaping educational policies and safeguarding students from arbitrary denials and unfair treatment.
Considering the facts, laws, and principles at hand, the court could not disregard the petitioner’s plight. Recognizing the petitioner’s exemplary performance, the court found no plausible reason to exclude him completely from pursuing Science education. The court held that cancelling the petitioner’s admission on the eve of his HSC examination would be a grave injustice.
The court directed the 4th Respondent to reconsider the petitioner’s case, considering his academic achievements, provisional admission to prestigious institutions, and the paramount importance of his educational rights. The court emphasized the need for a fair and expeditious resolution to ensure that the petitioner’s prospects were not unduly jeopardized.
The case highlights the crucial role of laws, regulations, and principles in safeguarding students’ educational rights. It underlines the need for educational institutions and regulatory bodies to balance regulations with flexibility, fairness, and consideration of individual circumstances. Upholding the petitioner’s right to education paves the way for a more inclusive and progressive educational system, where every student’s potential can be nurtured, regardless of procedural intricacies.
JUDGEMENT REVIEWED BY VETHIKA D PORWAL, BMS COLLEGE OF LAW