Before the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 (‘RTE’), most states under their state education Acts, allowed unrecognized schools to exist and provide education. With the 2009 Act coming into force, under the provisions of Section 18 and 19 read with state rules thereof, it was incumbent upon every private school to apply for recognition from such authority as was prescribed under the purview of said Act. In this manner RTE mandates a certificate of recognition for all private schools. The certificate of recognition requires compliance with minimum infrastructure, i.e. toilets, drinking water, pupil-teacher ratio, no. of working days and most importantly weather-proof building. There is no mention of learning outcomes. Additionally, by-laws and rules made by the states under RTE or the respective state education Act mandate a minimum plot area failing which schools may not be recognised.
These norms may impact around 30,000 private schools across India. In garb of these provisions, the State Government shut down 931 private schools in Punjab. (Lewis, 2014) Further, 219 private schools in Punjab have been shut down vide order dated 20.08.2013 passed in a matter entitled Balraj Singh v State of Punjab CWP 7388 of 2010 (O & M) by a Division Bench of High Court of Punjab and Haryana at Chandigarh because of non-compliance with Sections 18 and 19 of the RTE Act read with Rule 11 & 12 of the Punjab RTE Rules. More than 1300 private schools in Haryana have been also been sent closure notices by the State Government (Siwach, 2013). This translates to displacing around half a million children from the schools of their choice. Further, in most school closure cases in Punjab as well as in Haryana, due process as prescribed in S.18 and 19 has not been followed