Unni Krishnan, J.P., and Others v. State of Andhra Pradesh and Others

[1993] 1 S.C.R. 594 (1993)

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Unni Krishnan, J.P., and Others v. State of Andhra Pradesh and Others

India Supreme Court
[1993] 1 S.C.R. 594 (1993)

Facts

Unni Krishnan, J.P. (plaintiff) was a private institution of higher education that, along with other private institutions (plaintiffs), petitioned the India Supreme Court to reconsider one of its earlier decisions that recognized education as a fundamental right, including higher education, and held that neither public nor private educational institutions that were recognized by the government could charge capitation fees, i.e., fees over a certain level. The plaintiffs were private institutions that were either providing or seeking to provide medical and engineering programs in the state of Andhra Pradesh (defendant) and in other states (defendants). Unni Krishnan alleged that the India Supreme Court’s earlier decision would force private educational centers to close their doors. The India Supreme Court reconsidered its earlier decision and contemplated the right to education under Articles 41, 45, and 46 of India’s constitution in light of the right to life under Article 21. The right to education was not expressly listed in Part III of India’s constitution among the fundamental rights, which were judicially enforceable, such as the right to life. Rather, the right to education was listed in Part IV’s directive principles on state policy. Nevertheless, the India Supreme Court had long interpreted the nonjusticiable rights in Part IV into the justiciable rights of Part III through Article 21’s right to life. Thus, the right to education under Articles 41, 45, and 46 was considered to flow from the right to life under Article 21. Combined, Articles 41, 45, and 46 meant that the state was required to provide free compulsory education to children until the age of 14, and thereafter the state provided education within the constraints of its economic capacity. A state was permitted to discharge its duties under the constitution either directly or by providing affiliation, recognition, and funding to private institutions. Therefore, the India Supreme Court considered whether unfunded private institutions were permitted to charge higher fees than public educational institutions.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Reddy, J.)

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