The case of Mohini Jain v. State of Karnataka, decided in 1992, is a significant judgement by the Supreme Court of India that emphasised the importance of the right to education as an integral part of the right to life under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution.
Mohini Jain, a student from Meerut, Uttar Pradesh, aspired to pursue medical studies. She was admitted to a private medical college in Karnataka but was unable to enroll due to the high capitation fee demanded by the college. Capitation fees are payments over and above the prescribed fee and are considered illegal.
The key issue was whether charging capitation fees for admission to educational institutions was constitutionally valid and whether the right to education formed part of the fundamental right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution.
Supreme Court Judgment:
- The Supreme Court held that the right to education is indeed an integral part of the right to life as it directly flows from the right to life. The court observed that life and dignity of an individual cannot be assured unless it is accompanied by the right to education.
- The court condemned the practice of charging capitation fees as it commercialised education and made it inaccessible to the poor, thereby violating the constitutional mandate of equality.
- The judgement asserted that charging capitation fees was not only against the policy and objective of the Constitution but also defeated the goal of making education available to every citizen.
Significance of the Judgment:
1. Establishment of Education as a Fundamental Right: This judgment was pivotal in recognizing education not just as a statutory right but as a fundamental one, deeply connected to the dignity and freedom of an individual.
2. Impact on Educational Policies: The judgement had a significant impact on the educational landscape of India, leading to reforms that aimed to make education more accessible and equitable.
3. Precursor to the Right to Education Act: This judgement laid the groundwork for the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009, which made education a fundamental right for children aged 6 to 14 years.
The Mohini Jain v. State of Karnataka case stands as a landmark in the Indian legal system, reaffirming the importance of education as a fundamental right and setting a precedent for future educational policies and reforms in India.
For more detailed information, you can refer to sources like [Indian Kanoon](https://indiankanoon.org/doc/1031794/) or academic articles discussing this case.