ISLAMABAD - Declaring a proposed decision of the federal government to wind up Basic Education Community Schools (BECS) project as unlawful and violation of various constitutional provisions guaranteeing basic education to the citizens, the Supreme Court on Monday observed that under Article 25A of the Constitution, it has been made mandatory upon the state to provide education to the children of the age of 5 to 16 years. In its detailed verdict released on Monday over the pleas against the proposed closure of the BECS project, a three-member Supreme Court bench comprising Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Justice Khilji Arif Hussain and Justice Tariq Parvez held that the governments proposed action of closing down 'Establishment and Operation of Basic Education Community Schools is without lawful authority and of no legal effect and is in violation of article 25-A of the Constitution. The court also held the governments proposed act of winding up the National Commission on Human Development (NCHR) as unconstitutional and of no legal effect and directed the Commission to continue to perform the positive duty of providing basic human rights to the citizens. The State is under a constitutional mandate to provide educational institutions at all levels for the benefit of the citizens. The educational institutions must function to the best advantage of the citizens. Opportunity to acquire education cannot be confined to the richer section of the society, the court said in its judgment. The court observed that the respondent (government) was directed on October 21, 2011 to pay the salaries of the teachers/staff of the BECS and submit compliance report, but the court received no compliance report so far. The court directed the Finance Secretary to comply with the October 21, 2011 order in letter and spirit and submit compliance report not later than a period of seven days to the Registrar for judges perusal in chambers. The court said that it is an accepted norm that education plays an important role in the successful life of individuals and for development of the nation and the country. Therefore, if regular system of parting education to the children for want of infrastructure is not possible then by adopting informal system of education the States had been fulfilling their duties. We are of the considered opinion that under Article 70 read with Entry 16 of Part I of the Federal Legislative List and the Constitutional Amendments, both the Ordinances covering BECS and NCHD are fully protected and shall remain operative unless repealed in accordance with the Constitution and so long both the Ordinances are holding the field, the BECS providing informal education to the backward classes or the areas shall continue to function, the court held. The court noted that the competent authority vide its letter of June 9, 2008 has approved PC-I with a total cost of Rs7000 million for a period of four years and due to slow releases of funds the project could have not be completed, thus it has been extended up to June 30, 2012, therefore, without prejudice the BECS project cannot be closed down. The petitioners had sought the apex court order against the proposed closure of a total of 15,101 BECS having 561,000 enrolled students across the country. The BECS project, running all over the country with 15,101 BECS and 561,000 students, was launched under the National Education Foundation project. After passage of 18th amendment, the federal government initially handed over the project to the provinces, but decided to close it down after the provinces refused to own it. During the hearing of the pleas, the court was informed by the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) chairman Salman Siddique that from 1984 to 1994, a total of Rs66 billion was collected under Iqra Education Surcharge. BECSs Project Director Saadia had told the court that the project was a brainchild of education ministry in 1995 and in 1998 the then government decided to increase number of schools from 10,000 to 68,000 and afterwards when it was decided to close down the project, they prepared a PC-1 and presented it before the then prime minister. The court was informed that the NCHD and National Education Commission were the subjects of the federal legislature, adding that under Article 270AA, the subject was protected.