Minimum Age Criteria for Admission to Diploma in Primary Teachers Training Course Intelligible Differentia, Not Violative of Article 14: Jharkhand HC
13th May 2021 the Jharkhand High Court, in Sunita Kumari vs. State of Jharkhand and Ors. –CWP no. 4192 of 2017 – and nine other cases, upheld Clause 6 of the Human Resource Development (HRD) Department, Jharkhand Government Resolution dated 20th May 2004 that mandates candidate’s minimum age to be 18 years for admission eligibility in training colleges for all courses including B.Ed, C.P.Ed, PTT, among others.
The Single Judge Bench of Justice Anubha Rawat Choudhary observed:
“…in the matter of fixation of any cut-off date regarding the age the legislature has very wide latitude unless it is found to be suffering from total lack of application of mind. This is over and above the fact that in the matter of dealing with the gamut of admission to educational institution, the role of the State is not excluded totally rather a great latitude has been conferred to the State by the Constitution itself to take decision depending upon the local conditions and the requirement of local people while enacting the law.”
The petitioner students were admitted to the Radha Govind Primary Teachers Training College for the academic session 2011-13 onwards for a diploma course in primary teachers training despite their age being less than 18 years at the time of admission. Owing to a contravention of the said clause, the petitioners barred from filling the registration forms for the examination scheduled to be held by the Jharkhand Academic Council.
Aggrieved, the petitioners filed writ petitions before the Jharkhand High Court challenging the said clause contending that the impugned clause is violative of Article 14 of the Constitution and is also in contravention of the National Council for Teachers Education Act (NCTE), 1993.
The Court emphasized that fixation of minimum age is “essentially a matter of policy of the State” and since the NCTE 1993 had not prescribed any age criteria, the Jharkhand Government exercised its power under Entry 24, List III of the Constitution in prescribing minimum age for admission to Diploma in Elementary Education. The Court additionally observed that such fixation of age is based on intelligible differentia and is therefore not violative of Article 14 of the Constitution.
The Court stated:
“…the State has the competence to provide for the minimum age under the NCTE Regulation dated 18.06.2002 and also independent of it under entry 25 List III of VIIth schedule to the Constitution of India. The NCTE Act and the Regulations framed thereunder do not occupy the field of prescribing minimum age for admission in Diploma in Primary Teachers Training Course and therefore there is no question of any repugnancy between the impugned Clause 6 of Resolution No.1382 dated 20.05.2004 issued by the State Government, so far it relates to admission to the Diploma in Elementary education, and NCTE Act, 1993 and the regulations framed thereunder.”
The petitioners’ contention stood quashed.
Ankitha Subramanya | Research Intern | EduLegaL
Swapna Iyer | Legal Editor | EduLegaL