This blog post summarises the arguments made on behalf of the Azim Premji Foundation by Jayna Kothari and Menaka Guruswamy in the Supreme Court regarding the constitutionality of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act 2009.
One of the important questions that came up before the Supreme Court was the horizontal application of fundamental rights. This issue is really the core of the RTE Act, which mandates all private unaided schools to take in 25% of children from disadvantaged groups free of charge and to be re-imbursed only nominally by the State and requires them to follow the basic norms and standards set by the State for all schools. Although in India there has never been a direct application of fundamental rights being applied to non-State actors, the debate of horizontality of rights is not new. There are several articles in Part III of the Indian Constitution (containing the fundamental rights), which directly apply to non-State actors as well.