New Delhi: The Supreme Court today asked the centre to "deliberate upon" and assist it in hearing a public interest litigation that raised issues such as bringing 3.5 crore poor children into the formal schooling system and the need to fill 9.5 lakh vacant post of teachers in schools across the country.
"This is a very, very good petition," a bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra said while perusing the plea filed by 'Akhil Delhi Prathmik Shikshal Sangh', a registered society of primary teachers, seeking relief, including implementation of the right to education of children aged between six to 14 years.
However, the bench, which also comprised justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, said that it has reservations whether issuing notices to all 36 states and Union territories (UTs) on the PIL would be the proper course of action and sought assistance of Attorney General K K Venugopal in the matter.
AG Venugopal said that the petitioner society may file a representation to the central government which will deliberate on the issues raised and assist the bench.
The court, which did not issue notice to the centre, states and UTs for the time being, asked the centre to consider the representation and assist it after deliberating on the issues raised in the plea after six weeks.
Senior advocate Colin Gonsalves, appearing for the teachers' body, said the children are suffering as government schools are shutting down and around 9.5 lakh posts of teachers are vacant in these schools.
The teachers' body, in its plea filed through lawyers Satya Mitra and Aditi Saxena, referred to reports "showing systematic and widespread violations of children's right to education across the country, including violations of numerous specific requirements of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009".
The petition said that according to data, there were 14,45,807 government and registered private schools imparting elementary education in the country and as on 2015-16, there were approximately 3.68 crore children who were not in school.
It has sought a direction to all the states and UTs to identify the children, as mandated under the RTE Act, within six months to ascertain as to how many of them should be brought in the formal schooling system.
The plea has also sought a direction to identify "all schools whether government, private, aided or unaided" which did not have proper infrastructure such as "all-weather building with at least one classroom for every teacher, barrier-free access, separate toilets for boys and girls, teaching staff and teaching learning material (TLM).
It has asked for a direction "to ensure that unaided private primary recognised schools admit the children of economically weaker section (EWS) category in their first level to the tune of 25 per cent quota as enshrined in the RTE Act".
The states and the UTs should recruit, train and employ 9.5 lakh additional teachers fill the vacancies within two years, the plea has said.