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Report No. 165

Chapter III

Right to Education in Indian Constitution and International Covenants

3.1. Constitutional Provisions concerning right to education.-

It is necessary to refer to various provisions of the Constitution of India. The Preamble promises to secure to all citizens of India "justice, social, economic and political" and "liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship". It further provides "equality of status and of opportunity" and assures dignity of the individual. Articles 21, 33, 39(a) and (f), 41 and 45 of the Constitution are reproduced hereunder:

"21. Protection of life and personal liberty.-No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law."

"33. State to secure a social order for the promotion of welfare of the people.-(1) The State shall strive to promote the welfare of the people by securing and protecting as effectively as it may a social order in which justice, social, economic and political, shall inform all the institutions of the national life.

(2) The State shall, in particular, strive to minimise the inequalities in income, and endeavour to eliminate inequalities in status, facilities and opportunities, not only amongst individuals but also amongst groups of people residing in different areas or engaged in different vocations."

"39. Certain principles of policy to be followed by the State.-The State shall, in particular, direct its policy towards securing-

(a) that the citizens, men and women equally, have the right to an adequate means of livelihood;

(f) that children are given opportunities and facilities to develop in a healthy manner and in conditions of freedom and dignity and that childhood and youth are protected against exploitation and against moral and material abandonment."


"41. Right to work, to education and to public assistance in certain cases.-The State shall, within the limits of its economic capacity and development, make effective provision for securing the right to work, to education and to public assistance in cases of unemployment, old age, sickness and disablement, and in-other cases of undeserved want."

"45. Provision for free and compulsory education for children.-The State shall endeavour to provide, within a period of ten years from the commencement of this Constitution, for free and compulsory education for all children until they complete the age of fourteen years."

3.2. In Mohini lain v. State of Karnataka, AIR 1992 SC 1858, the Supreme Court expounded upon the import of 'right to education' by holding:

"7. It is no doubt correct that 'right to education' as such has not been guaranteed as a fundamental right under Part III of the Constitution but reading the provisions cumulatively it becomes clear that the framers of the Constitution made it obligatory for the State to provide education for its citizens."

"12. "Right to life" is the compendious expression for all those rights which the courts must enforce because they are basic to the dignified enjoyment of life. It extends to the full range of conduct which the individual is free to pursue. The right to education flows directly from right to life. The right to life under Article 21 and the dignity of an individual cannot be assured unless it is accompanied by the right to education. The State Government is under an obligation to make endeavour to provide educational facilities at all levels to its citizens."

"13. The fundamental rights guaranteed under Part III of the Constitution of India including the right to freedom of speech and expression and other rights under Article 19 cannot be appreciated and fully enjoyed unless a citizen is educated and is conscious of his individualistic dignity."

"17. We hold that every citizen has a 'right to education' under the Constitution. The State is under an obligation to establish educational institutions to enable the citizens to enjoy the said right. The State may discharge its obligation through State-owned or State-recognised educational institutions. When the State Government grants recognition to the private educational institutions it creates an agency to fulfil its obligation under the Constitution."

Free and compulsory Education for Children Back

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