The court order came on a petition filed by NGO Naz Foundation whose lawyer, Anand Grover, impressed upon the bench that children living or affected by HIV get segregated and are compelled to leave schools.
Right to Education (RTE), 2009 entitles children aged between 6 and 14 from disadvantaged groups to avail free and compulsory education. Under the law all schools, including private ones, are required to reserve 25% of their seats at the entry level for the disadvantaged group of society. Usually the children bracketed in this category belong to the economically weaker sections.
“We are of a prima facie view that the state governments need to consider issuance of notification to include children living with or affected by HIV as belonging to disadvantaged group under the provisions of the Right to Education Act,” the bench said. The Centre was directed to communicate the order to all the secretaries concerned within a week.
Naz Foundation’s lawyer Grover submitted that there was zero risk of transmission of the disease and yet the children were being discriminated against. He claimed there was poor implementation of the law which gives protection to such children.
In its plea Naz Foundation said guidelines should be framed to prevent discrimination of HIV-affected students and even those whose parents suffer from the disease. Their inclusion in the disadvantaged group would ensure they get education without any prejudice.