Kerala High Court: In a Civil Writ Petition seeking interim direction to permit the conduct of vacation classes in Central Board of Secondary Education (‘CBSE’) School while challenging the order passed on 3-5-2023 by the Director of General Education (‘DGE’) directing all the Primary, Secondary and Higher Secondary schools in Thiruvananthapuram not to conduct vacation classes, P.V. Kunhikrishnan, J. referred the matter to Division Bench while refusing to invoke powers under Article 226 of the Constitution of India.
The Court had earlier stayed the implementation of the afore-mentioned DGE order for two weeks while relying on I.S.S. (English Medium) Senior Secondary School v. State of Kerala, 2018 SCC OnLine Ker 23574 wherein, the Court observed that “if there is no objection from the parents, teachers and students, the special classes can be conducted during the summer vacation on condition that the school authorities will provide basic facilities.” The petitioners also relied on the said decision while the Court upheld the request and advice of parents and students for conducting summer classes for Class 11 and upwards, i.e., for children above 14 years of age.
The Court examined Rule 1 Chapter VII of Kerala Education Rules (‘KER’) which provides for all the schools to remain closed during summer vacations unless otherwise notified by the DGE. It further pointed towards the recent DGE orders stating that no classes shall be conducted in any of the schools during the summer vacation because of the prevailing atmospheric temperature, thereby, reflecting that the order passed by the DGE is in tune with Rule 1 of Chapter VII of KER.
The instant petition also challenges the DGE’s power to issue such an order against CBSE schools. In this regard, the Court referred to the Kerala High Court’s decision in a batch of Writ Petitions when the DGE passed an order based on directions of Child Rights Commission and the Court in 2019 allowed the conduct of classes during summer vacation. When the said decision was appealed before the Division Bench, the Court clarified that Regional Director of CBSE cannot have a say in such matters, and that the affiliating body cannot have a contrary stance against the orders of the State Government.
The Court did not agree with the findings in ISS (English Medium) Senior Secondary School (supra) while sticking to Rule 1 Chapter VII of KER, since the above case would go against the rule while the same has not been declared invalid. The Court further relied on judgment dated 5-4-2019 in Civil Writ Petition No. 10123 of 2019 and another one dated 4-7-2019 in Writ Appeal No. 1255 of 2019 upholding DGE’s right to pass a similar order as that in the instant matter.
The Court also brought into view the purpose for giving vacations to students as a break after a hectic academic year. The Court said that “The students should enjoy the vacations and rejuvenate for their next academic year. Holiday breaks allow the students to shift their focus from traditional study materials. They can reach their other ambitions in extracurricular activities, which they are generally not able to address during the school year. Summer vacation is necessary for the students to spend time with their kith and kins and for a mental break. Concentrating on school books alone would not be sufficient for the children. Let them sing, let them dance, let them eat their favourite food leisurely without the fear of next day’s homework, let them enjoy their favourite television programmes, let them play cricket, football or their favourite sports items and let them enjoy trips with their kith and kins. A hectic academic year is coming. Before that, a break is necessary for the student community.”
Thus, the Court refused to invoke powers under Article 226 of the Constitution to interdict DGE’s order in tune with Rule 1 of Chapter VII KER. The writ petitions were adjourned for hearing before the Division Bench.
[Kerala CBSE School Management Association v. State of Kerala, Civil Writ Petition No. 15455 of 2023, Order dated 24-5-2023]
Order by: Justice P.V. Kunhikrishnan
Advocates who appeared in this case :
For Petitioners: Senior Advocate K.P. Satheesan, Advocate P. Mohandas, Advocate K. Sudhin Kumar, Advocate Sabu Pullan, Advocate Gokul D. Sudhakaran, Advocate R. Bhaskara Krishnan;
For Respondents: Advocate Nirmal S.