It is said that the 86th amendment diverted from the Unnikrishnan judgment; how?
The original Article 45 of the Directive Principles had used the term ‘up to 14 years’ and the Unnikrishnan judgment said ‘till he completes the age of 14 years’. Both these definitions contain the age group 0-6 years. Article 21A restricted the age group from 6 to 14, thereby removing the 0-6 age group from the right; relegating it to the new article 45 of Directive Principles. The Unnikrishnan judgment had further observed that the right to education existed and would not be contingent upon the economic capacity of the state up to 14 years of age. Article 21A said that it would come into force ‘in such manner as the State may, by law, determine’. So it was made contingent on a law that the state may bring in. This Act is that law, and it took another eight years to come since the 86th amendment was passed. So it took seventeen years for the right to be enforced since the Unnikrishnan judgment, that too for the restricted age group of 6 to 14 years. It may be noted here that it was the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Education that recommended the age group 6 to 14 years for the eventual 86th constitutional amendment, paving the way for the restricted age group.