- Sakshar Law Associates
Understanding the right to Professional Education
Updated: Sep 3, 2022
Education is the most effective vehicle for human growth. It broadens, enhances, and improves a person's vision of the future. Without knowledge, a man is nothing more than a beast.
Human beings are emancipated by education, which leads to their liberation from ignorance. According to Pestalozzi, education is a continuous process of the natural, harmonic, and gradual development of man's innate powers. According to folklore, "a nation's ability to translate knowledge into riches and social good through the process of innovation will influence its future in the twenty-first century," and hence the twenty-first century is known as the "century of wisdom." In the case of Brown v. Board of Education, the importance of education was succinctly stated: "It is the very cornerstone of good citizenship." It is now the primary tool for educating children about cultural values, preparing them for future professional training, and assisting them in adjusting to their surroundings. It has been said that a child is the future of the country.
"While the right to pursue higher (professional) education is not directly established in Part III of the Constitution, it is crucial to remember that professional education is not really a government gift. Rather, the state has made a solid commitment to improving access to education at all levels.."  Supreme Court
The Supreme Court has stated that access to professional education is not a "government generosity" and that the state has an explicit commitment to assist its reach at all levels. According to the apex court, this commitment is considerably more important for children whose backgrounds place significant barriers in their way of receiving a quality education.
These parameters were measured by a bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud and M R Shah in a court's ruling on separate petitions filed by two students from Ladakh who'd been denied admission to MBBS degree courses in medical institutions here despite the Union Territory's nomination and the seats alerted by the Centre.
"This commitment is considerably more important for pupils whose background (due to factors such as caste, class, sexuality, faith, disability, and geographic location) presents tremendous barriers on their route to receiving a quality education," it stated.
While granting the two students' petitions, the Supreme Court ordered that the admission requirements be completed as soon as possible, preferably within a week.
The bench observed: that the both petitioners were proposed by the Ladakh administration for admittance to the MBBS degree programme through the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare's 'central pooling' seating.
One of these has been sent to Lady Hardinge Medical College, while the other has been allotted to Maulana Azad Medical College, according to the report.
"We were forced to take up the case under Article 32 because the fundamental rights of Ladakh students to pursue professional education are at stake," the statement added.
According to the bench, "We will, of course, address the two students' grievances in the course of this decision. However, we seek to address the problem on a systematic level so that more students who may lack means or merely a basic understanding of legal remedies are not denied an education "
It was underlined that Additional Solicitor General’s R S Suri and K M Nataraj, representing the Centre and Ladakh, claimed that as proper appropriations have also been made in the petitioners' favor, there really is no reason or justification to refuse individuals entrance. According to a notification disseminated by the UT administration on February 19 this year, the Director of Health Services Ladakh (DHSL) has presented a list of recommended candidates from Ladakh to be approved in the central pool medical seats for the year 2020-2021.
"To alleviate the suffering suffered by these candidates, we further instruct that all students referenced to in annexure A of the notification of 19 February 2021, as excerpted herein, be awarded admissions to the pertinent institutions, if not previously given," it stated.
"We're delivering such broad directions to mitigate the likelihood from each of the similarly qualified kids of been told to relocate this court. Financial struggles should not preclude students from having received admission in conformance with the legitimate allocations made in their pursuit under the central pool seats" The bench underlined.
The judges resorted to the International Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), which was established to oversee the implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, which India accepted in 1979.
According to the bench, as part of India's obligations as a member to the Covenant, the health ministry and DHSL must provide effective coordination so that students assigned to colleges under the central pool seats do not face difficulties enrolling once their seats have been lawfully assigned. It stated that they can consider establishing a nodal officer to ensure that students who are duly nominated for central pool seats be accepted to their desired field of study.
"Students will not be left in the lurch leading to an unavailability of assistance in getting lawful admittance to the relevant course when such an institutional framework is in place. As a direct consequence, it will make a significant contribution towards the negotiated settlement of the larger issue, of which the specific scenario is a manifestation.” The bench remarked.
Furthermore, the Constitution only guarantees that the state will offer elementary education to adolescents up to the age of 14, with further and post-secondary education dependent on the state's economic capabilities. The right to education would only be significant if it reaches all sectors of the population at all levels; otherwise, it will fall short of our Founder Father's goal of making Indian society an equal society.
"We're giving these broad directives to avoid the risk of each of the similarly placed youngsters having to petition this Court individually. Financial difficulties should not preclude students from receiving admission in accordance with the valid allocations made in their favor under the central pool seats ", the bench said.
"This (state's) commitment takes even greater relevance for pupils whose background (due to features such as caste, class, gender, religion, disability, and geographic location) presents tremendous barriers on their road to receiving a quality education," the bench remarked.
The bench referenced the conclusions of the Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, which has been formed in 1979 to oversee India's ratification of the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights. The Committee also created "General Comment(s)," which function as interpretation assistance for the Covenant's many clauses. 'Education is the primary method through which economically and politically stigmatized adults and children can lift themselves out of poverty and acquire the methods to participate actively in their coexistence,' writes the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights ("ICESCR Committee") in General Comment 13.
Every State Party is obligated to ensure that educational and managerial education is rendered widely available, and also that higher education is readily applicable to all on the based-on merit, according to Article 26(1) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which is a reservoir of compelling value. The ICESCR committee underlined four key elements of education at all levels in its General Comment 13. One such quality, for example, is ‘accessibility.' Two of the ICESCR Committee's accessible recommendations need special attention.
First, it states that "education has to be available to all, especially the most vulnerable populations, in law and fact, without discriminating on any of the forbidden bases." Second, is economic connectivity, which requires the state party to take measures to ensure that financial restraints do not prevent students from receiving an education.
The ICESCR Committee correctly observes that differences in expenditure strategies that result in varying educational quality for people living in various geographic areas may be considered discrimination under the Covenant. Each state party is obligated, among other things, to realize the right to education by facilitating and preparing for it. In accordance with the commitments that India has assumed as a member of the Covenant, the Union MHFW and the DHSL should ensure effective coordination so that students assigned to colleges under the central pool seats do not face difficulties registering once their seats have been lawfully assigned.
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