Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In a major win for Private Schools in the State of Rajasthan, the bench of AM Khanwilkar and Dinesh Maheshwari, JJ has directed the School Managements to collect fees for the academic year 2019-2020 as well as 2020-2021 from the students, equivalent to fees amount notified for the academic year 2019- 2020, in six monthly installments commencing from 5th March, 2021 and ending on 5th August, 2021.

Noticing that the hearing in the matter is likely to take some more time, the Court passed ‘interim directions which will address the concerns of all parties in some measure’.

In the order that came as a big blow to the parents as most of the classes in the year 2020 have been conducted online due to the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic, the Court, in order to balance the interest of the Schools and the parents, further passed the following interim directions:

  1. The Management shall not debar any student from attending either online classes or physical classes on account of non-payment of fees, arrears/outstanding fees including the installments, referred to above, and shall not withhold the results of the examinations of any student on that account.
  2. Where the parents have difficulty in remitting the fee in terms of this interim order, it will be open to those parents to approach the school concerned by an individual representation and the management of the school will consider such representation on a case-to-case basis sympathetically.
  3. The above arrangement will not affect collection of fees for the academic year 2021-2022, which would be payable by the students as and when it becomes due and payable, and as notified by the management/school.
  4. In respect of the ensuing Board examinations for classes X and XII (to be conducted in 2021) the school management shall not withhold the name of any student/candidate on the ground of non-payment of the fee/arrears, if any, on obtaining undertaking of the concerned parent/student.

The Court, however, clarified that the above arrangements would be subject to the outcome of the matters pending before the Court including the final directions to be given to the parties and without prejudice to the rights and contentions of the parties in these proceedings.

The Court also directed the State of Rajasthan to ensure that all government outstanding dues towards unit cost payable to respective unaided schools are settled within one month from the today and, in any case, before 31st March, 2021.

The matter will now be taken up for hearing on February 15, 2021.

[Gandhi Sewa Sadan Rajsamand v. State of Rajasthan, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 70, order dated 08.02.2021]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court:  The 3-Judge Bench comprising of L. Nageswara Rao*, S. Abdul Nazeer and Indu Malhotra, JJ., dismissed the appeal filed by Chintpurni Medical College and Hospital for seeking permission for admitting students for the academic year 2021-2022. The Bench stated,

“There is no merit in the contention of the Appellants that admissions for the academic year 2019-2020 should be considered without any further inspection as the debarment by the notification dated 26-09-2016 was only for a period of two years.”

Background

Government of India granted letter of permission to the Appellant-College on 30-06-2011 for intake of 150 students in MBBS course for the academic year 2011-2012. As the inspections carried out by the Medical Council of India revealed gross deficiencies of the teaching faculty, clinical material and the other physical facilities in the medical college, it recommended that renewal of permission should not be granted to the Appellant-College for the academic years 2012-2013 to 2014-2015 which was accepted by the government.

Meanwhile, on 18-09-2014 in the case of Hind Charitable Trust Shekhar Hospital Private Ltd. v. Union of India, (2015) 2 SCC 336, this Court permitted private medical colleges whose application for renewal of permission was disapproved to make admissions, subject to the undertaking by the President/Chairman and Secretary of the Medical College that there was no deficiency existing in the medical college. Pursuant to which the Appellant-College submitted an undertaking that there was no deficiency existing in the facilities and that in the event of any deficiency being found in the inspection, the bank guarantee of Rs.9.5 Crores should be forfeited. Consequently, the Appellant-College was permitted to admit students for the academic year 2014-2015.

After noticing gross deficiencies, government debarred the Appellant-College for two years i.e. 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 from admitting students and allowed Medical Council of India to forfeit the bank guarantee. Students who were admitted in the first Appellant-College during the years 2011-2012, 2014-2015 and 2016-2017 were shifted to other colleges.

Thereafter, the appellant requested Medical Council of India to permit admission of 150 students in MBBS course for the academic year 2019-2020 which was rejected by the Council. Aggrieved by the same, the Appellant filed a petition in the High Court of Delhi which was dismissed.

Observation and Decision

The Bench observed the findings of High Court that there was no merit in the contention of the Appellants that admissions for the academic year 2019-2020 should be considered without any further inspection as the debarment by the notification dated 26-09-2016 was only for a period of two years. The Bench clarified the order of High Court stating that the Court had merely allowed the appellants to pursue their request for permission for the academic years 2019-2020 and 2020-2021. It did not mean that the appellants were entitled to admit students for the academic year 2019-2020 without an inspection. The Bench stated,

A bare look of inspections conducted from the years 2011-2012 had made it clear that the Appellants had not utilized the opportunities given to them to rectify the deficiencies in the past.

In the view of above, the instant appeal was dismissed and findings of the High Court were upheld. The Bench further clarified that the appellant-College should be entitled for admissions for the academic year 2021-2022 only if renewal of the recognition is granted to the appellant-College and it is found that there are no deficiencies like infrastructure, clinical, teaching faculty and other facilities. [Chintpurni Medical College and Hospital v. Union of India, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 45, decided on 28-01-2021]


Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has put this story together. 

*Justice L. Nageswara Rao has penned this judgment

Conference/Seminars/LecturesLaw School News

Institute of Law, Nirma University is organising International Symposium in association with South Asia Network for Justice Education (SANJE) on 8th and 9th February 2021.

Law education largely focuses on legal market trends and providing services in which community needs of justice is often undermined in the legal education process. Looking at the present scenario of access to justice resources in India, the need is felt to create a cadre of lawyers who act as justice professionals. This requires thorough grounding and grooming of young promising law students during the course of their law education. We attempt to build a team of law clinicians and multidisciplinary professors along with justice educationists who help law students to develop diverse perspectives on the justice needs of the community. This requires organised efforts through a network of justice educators who can deliberate design, develop and deploy innovative strategies and transformative pedagogies. In this regard, the problem is not just the absence of justice education, but more fundamentally it is the absence of important information, including techniques, examples, support, and even guidance, that could encourage attempts to bring about justice education. Bringing about justice education requires a massive change from traditional ways of teaching.

The Symposium focuses on empowering all like-minded law teachers, legal aid professionals, and paralegal, teachers from other allied disciplines, and build the community of clinicians who design and engage budding justice professionals through innovative pedagogy for a just and sustainable society.

Schedule:

Date – 8 February 2021

Time- 7: 30 PM – 9:00 PM

Theme: Educating future lawyers for a just & sustainable society, Promoting social justice through performing arts

Moderator: Prof. (Dr.) Varsha Ganguly, Professor, Institute of Law, Nirma University, Ahmedabad.

Resource Persons:

  • Prof. (Dr.) Srikrishna Deva Rao, Vice-Chancellor, National Law University, Delhi.

  • Prof. (Dr.) Lisa Radtke Bliss, Associate Dean, Experiential Education and Clinical Programs, Georgia State University, Georgia.

  • Prof. (Dr.) Catherine F. Klein, Director, Columbus Community Legal Services Catholic University, Washington DC.

  • Prof. (Dr.) Sarasu Esther Thomas, Registrar, and Professor of Law, National Law School of India University, Bengaluru.

Date: 9 February 2021

Time: 7: 30 PM – 9:00 PM

Theme: Clinical legal education – Best practice standards and interdisciplinary model, Education 4.0 justice initiatives, Quality assessment tools,

Moderator: Prof. (Dr.) Purvi Pokhariyal, Dean & Director, Institute of Law, Nirma University, Ahmedabad.

Resource Persons

  • Prof. (Dr.) Susan L. Brooks, Associate Dean, Experiential Learning & Clinical Professor, School of Law, Drexel University.

  • Prof. (Dr.) Asha Bajpai, Former Professor and Visiting Faculty at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, and Institute of Law, Nirma University.

  • Prof. (Dr.) M R K Prasad, Professor of Law, V.M. Salgaocar College of Law, University of Panaji, Goa.

  • Prof. Abhayraj Naik, Advisor, Consultant and Researcher based in Bengaluru; Visiting Faculty at Azim Premji University, Bengaluru.

Who can register: Academicians, Research scholars, LL.M. students, any PG student studying Law, Education, Arts, Fine Arts, Management, Social Sciences and Humanities, Social Work, and any relevant faculty.

Registration Link: HERE 

For any queries contact email id: arpit.sharma@nirmauni.ac.in

High Courts

Delhi High Court: On 21st December, 2020, the Government of NCT of Delhi submitted in Court that elections of the School Management Committee (SMC) will be held within 2 months of school reopening. On 1st July, the Delhi Government had issued a circular by which SMCs were to be reconstituted through a draw of lots instead of elections right in the middle of the pandemic which was challenged by the petitioners as being opposed to the Right To Education Act. After the first hearing of this case, the Government issued a new circular (dated 16.07.20) adding information regarding tenure of  SMCs constituted by the draw of lots method. This information was missing from the impugned circular dated 01.07.20.  The new circular added that the SMCs constituted by the draw of lots method was only a ‘stop gap’ arrangement and elections to reconstitute SMCs would be held ‘after normalcy returns’. However, what ‘normalcy’ meant remained ambiguous.

Ms. Garima Sharma, the counsel appearing for the petitioners, pressed that the respondents commit to reconstitute the SMCs via elections within a fixed timeframe after school reopening. After seeking instructions from the Department of Education, the Government of NCT of Delhi, represented by Advocate Gautma Narayan, submitted that they will conduct elections to reconstitute SMCs within 2 months of school reopening. The same has been recorded in the order. The petitioners were satisfied with the submission made.  The bench of Navin Chawla, J. binding the respondents to the statement made disposed of the petition.

A SMC Meeting In Progress

This comes as a big relief to the petitioners who feared that the constitution of SMCs, by an opaque, exclusionary method such as draw of lots, if went unchallenged could become the norm and could take away the opportunity for parents to participate in choosing who will represent them in SMCs. SMCs are an important platform for parents to effect change inside a government school as they constitute 75% of the committee and SMCs have significant oversight and administrative roles and responsibilities.

[Indra v. Government of NCT of Delhi, Writ Petition (C) No. 4076 of 2020, dated 21-12-2020]

Click to access Note-On-The-Gaps-In-Current-SMC-Constitution-Ciricular_1-1.pdf


Nilufer Bhateja, Associate Editor has put this story together 

Also read: Delhi HC| Reconstitution of Delhi School Management Committees postponed till next hearing

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In a case where an Engineering College was not able to introduce a new course despite receiving AICTE’s approval, the 3-judge bench of SA Bobde, CJ and AS Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian*, JJ has upheld the power of Universities to fix norms for the grant of affiliation. The Court said,

“While universities cannot dilute the standards prescribed by AICTE, they certainly have the power to stipulate enhanced norms and standards.”

Controversy

The Division Bench of the Kerala High Court had directed the Vice Chancellor of the APJ Abdul Kalam Technological University to reconsider the application for affiliation of a new B.Tech course, submitted by Jai Bharath College of Management and Engineering Technology, a self-financing Engineering College, solely on the basis of the extension of approval granted by the All India Council for Technical Education.

With a view to regulate technical education in the State, the State of Kerala enacted the APJ Abdul Kalam Technological University Act, 2015.

The Engineering College in question is a self-financing Institution which was earlier offering B.Tech courses in five disciplines with an annual permitted intake of 60 students in each of the disciplines. After closing the course in one particular discipline, the Engineering College applied in February/March-2020 seeking approval of the AICTE for starting a new course in “Artificial Intelligence and Data Science” with a permitted annual intake of 60 students, from the Academic Year 2020¬21. AICTE granted approval for the same.

However, based on Government Order dated 22.06.2019 and the resolution of the University’s Syndicate, the subcommittee of the University did not recommend the grant of affiliation to the College in question for the proposed new course.

Relevant Government Order

The Government order dated 22.06.2019 directed that permission for starting new courses in Engineering shall be granted only if three conditions are satisfied namely:

(i) that the college should have NBA accreditation;

(ii) that the admission of students in the previous academic years should have been more than 50% of the sanctioned intake; and

(iii) that the new course should be innovative.

Syndicate’s impugned decisions

University’s Syndicate, in it’s decision dated 04.02.2020 fixed the following norms for the grant of affiliation to new programs based on the recommendation of the Academic Council:

(i) that at least one of the existing programs should have NBA accreditation;

(ii) that the average annual intake of the institution for the previous three years should be more than 50% of the sanctioned intake;

(iii) that the proposed programme should have AICTE approval and NOC from State Government; and

(iv) that the proposed programme should have industry demand/employment potential.

Later, the Syndicate, though decision dated 24.06.2020 fixed the following criteria:

(i) that the Institution should have more than 50% pass for the outgoing students at the time of application for affiliation;

(ii) that the Institution should have most recent academic audit overall score of “Good”; and

(iii) that the Institution should have three years average intake of more than 50% of the sanctioned intake.

Analysis

Syndicate’s power to prescribe norms and standards for affiliation

In the case on hand, the Court noticed that the power to lay down norms and standards and the power to affiliate to itself the Colleges, flow out of clause (iii) and (iv) of Section 8 of the APJ Abdul Kalam Technological University Act, 2015. This power is exercisable by University in accordance with the provisions of the Act, the Statutes, Ordinances and Regulations. It is the very same Section 8 which confers power upon the University to make Statutes, Ordinances and Regulations, under clause (xxvi).

Section 30(1) vests upon the Syndicate, the executive powers of the University, including the general superintendence and control over the institutions of the University. Sub¬section (2) of Section 30 lists out the powers available to the Syndicate, subject to the provisions of the Act and the Statutes.

Thus, the source of power for the Syndicate to prescribe norms and standards for affiliation, is Section 30(2) which begins with the words “subject to the provisions of the Act and the Statutes”. So, if there is something in the Act or the Statutes which regulates or controls the power of the Syndicate, then the Syndicate may be bound by such prescription. But if there is nothing in the Act/Statutes or if there are no Statutes at all, then it cannot be said that the power itself is unavailable. What is important to observe is that the power of the Syndicate to propose norms and standards flows out of the Act and not out of the University Statutes. Therefore, the absence of Statutes, till they were made for the first time on 07.08.2020, did not mean that the power under Section 30(2) could not have been exercised.

It was, hence, noticed that the Kerala High Court erred in thinking that in the absence of the Statutes, recourse was available only to the Vice Chancellor under Section 14(6), overlooking for a moment that the power under Section 30(2)(iii) would not become otiose due to the absence of the Statutes.

“The absence of the Statutes (till 07.08.2020) would only mean the absence of Statute-stipulated conditions and procedure for affiliation, but not the absence of the very power of the Syndicate flowing out of Section 30(2)(iii).”

Even assuming for a moment that the absence of the Statutes would take one automatically to Section 14(6), the inference drawn therefrom by the High Court may not be correct.  Section 14(6) says that in the absence of a Statute, it is the Vice Chancellor who has the power to regulate any matter which is required to be regulated by Statutes or Regulations. It cannot be interpreted to mean that the Syndicate itself will be powerless in the absence of the Statutes and that the Vice Chancellor will have the power.

In any case, the language of Section 14(6) is such that the Vice Chancellor may first regulate the matter by issuing directions and thereafter submit the same “as soon as may be” for the approval of the Board of Governors or other authority or body concerned. By virtue of Section 30(2)(iii), the Syndicate can be taken to be the “other authority” referred to in Section 14(6). If we do so, it can be seen that it was the Syndicate, chaired by the Vice Chancellor which took the impugned decisions in its meetings held on 04.02.2020 and 24.06.2020 and hence the prescription of norms by the Syndicate, chaired by the Vice Chancellor cannot be said to be ultra vires the Act.

“After all, the norms which the Colleges have objected to, merely seek to ensure that at least 50%   of the outgoing students had passed their respective courses and that the Institution should have the most recent academic audit overall score of “Good”, apart from having an actual intake of more than 50% of the sanctioned intake in the preceding three years on an average. We fail to understand how colleges can demand affiliation for creating additional courses, when the pass percentage of outgoing students is less than 50% and the Colleges could not even have an average intake of more than 50% of the sanctioned intake in the preceding three years.”

Role of the Universities vis-à-vis AICTE

The law is now fairly well settled that while it is not open to the Universities to dilute the norms and standards prescribed by AICTE, it is always open to the Universities to prescribe enhanced norms. Even the State Government can prescribe higher standards than those prescribed by AICTE.

Though AICTE has reserved to itself the power to conduct inspections and take penal action against colleges for false declarations, such penal action does not mean anything and does not serve any purpose for the students who get admitted to colleges which have necessary infrastructure only on paper and not on site. The Regulations of the AICTE are silent as to how the students will get compensated, when penal action is taken against colleges which host false information online in their applications to AICTE.

“Ultimately, it is the universities which are obliged to issue degrees and whose reputation is inextricably intertwined with the fate and performance of the students, that may have to face the music and hence their role cannot be belittled.”

The Ministry of Human Resources Development of the Government of India launched an initiative in September 2015, known as National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF), for ranking institutions including universities in India. The ranking is based on certain parameters such as:

(i)Teaching, Learning and Resources;

(ii) Research and Professional Practice;

(iii) Graduation Outcomes;

(iv) Outreach and Inclusivity; and

(v) Peer Perception.

Hence,

“No State run university can afford to have a laid-back attitude today, when their own performance is being measured by international standards. Therefore, the power of the universities to prescribe enhanced norms and standards, cannot be doubted.”

[APJ Abdul Kalam Technological University v. Jai Bharath College of Management and Engineering Technology, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 1015, decided on 10.12.2020]


*Justice V. Ramasubramanian has penned this judgment. 

For University: Senior Advocate Chander Uday Singh
For respondent college: Advocate S. Krishnamoorthy
For State: Advocate Priyanka Prakash
For AICTE: Advocate Anil Soni

For intervenors: Senior Advocates C. Arayama Sundaram, Gopal Sankaranarayanan and P.S. Narasimha

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In a case where a Medical College illegally denied admission to a candidate to Post-Graduate Medical Specialty course of MS for the academic year 2020-2021, the bench of L. Nageswara Rao* and Hemant Gupta, JJ has directed the College to pay a compensation of Rs. 10 lakhs to the candidate and to reserve a seat for her for the next academic year.

 

SC directs a Medical College to pay 10 lakhs compensation to a candidate for illegally denying her admission

Brief Background

Respondent was given provisional admission a seat in Kamineni Academy of Medical Sciences and Research Centre, Hyderabad under Management quota. According to the provisional allotment order, Respondent No.1 was required to report before the Principal of the Medical College by 04:00 PM on 30.07.2020. In case of failure to report within the prescribed time, the provisional selection shall be automatically cancelled.

According to the Respondent, in spite of her approaching Medical College along with her father on 29.07.2020 and 30.07.2020 for submission of certificates and payment of tuition fees as well as college fees, the admission was not completed. On 30.07.2020, the last date for admission into PG Medical Courses was extended till 30.08.2020. She then made an attempt to meet the Chairman of the Medical College on 07.08.2020 but was not permitted to meet the Chairman.

Subsequently, another candidate who was 2000 ranks below the Respondent was granted admission.

The High Court for Telangana directed the National Medical Commission/ Medical Council of India to create or sanction one seat in MS (General Surgery) for the Respondent and further directed the Medical College to grant her admission to the in MS (General Surgery) course.

Analysis

Contradictory stands by the Medical College

A perusal of the counter affidavit filed by the Medical College showed contradiction in the pleadings. On one hand, it is stated that Respondent and her father did not approach the College either on 29.07.2020 or 30.07.2020 for the purpose of admission. However, in it’s counter the Medical College has also stated Respondent had approached the College on 29.07.2020 to enquire about the admission procedure and the requisite fee.

The Court, hence, noticed that there was no reason to believe that Respondent did not approach the Medical College for admission, especially after paying the University Fee on 29.07.2020.

Admission to a candidate 2000 rank below the Respondent

The last date for admission to the PG Medical Courses for the academic year 2020-2021 was extended from 30.07.2020 to 30.08.2020. Another candidate, who is 2000 ranks below the Respondent, was granted admission on 11.08.2020 to the seat which was provisionally allotted to Respondent.

The Court noticed that there was nothing on record to show that the Medical College followed the procedure prescribed by the Regulations for filling up the seat due to non-joining. As the last date for admission has been extended beyond 30.07.2020, there was sufficient time for the Medical College to inform the Respondent to come and join in the seat that was allotted to her provisionally. In case of refusal by Respondent to join, it was incumbent upon the Medical College to have followed the merit list and offered the seat to doctors who were immediately ranked below the Respondent.

“The manner in which Respondent No.2-College acted in depriving admission to Respondent No.1 and giving admission to Respondent No.5 on 11.08.2020 is deplorable. The Managements of the Medical Colleges are not expected to indulge in such illegalities in making admissions to Medical Courses.”

High Court’s direction for creation of a seat

The Court reiterated that directions cannot be issued for increasing annual intake capacity and to create seats. The annual intake capacity is fixed by the Medical Council of India (now National Medical Commission) which has to be strictly adhered. Admissions to Medical Colleges cannot be permitted to be made beyond the sanctioned annual intake capacity of a medical college.

A balancing act of granting relief to both the candidates  

The Court found itself in a catch 22 situation where it could neither direct the Medical College to grant admission to the Respondent for this academic year as the last date for admissions was 30.08.2020, nor could it cancel the admission of the other candidate who was allotted the Respondent’s seat as he might not have known about the denial of admission to Respondent illegally.

Disapproving the practice of the Medical College in picking up students for granting admission without following the merit list, the Court refrained from disturbing the admission granted to the other candidate.

However, considering that the Respondent has lost one precious academic year for no fault of hers, the Court directed that

  1. she has to be compensated with Rs.10 Lakhs to be paid by the Medical College within a period of four weeks from the date of the decision.
  2. one seat in MS (General Surgery) course from the Management Quota of the Medical College for the next academic year (2021-22) shall be granted to her.

[National Medical Commission v. Mothukuru Sriyah Koumudi,  2020 SCC OnLine SC 992, decided on 07.12.2020]


*Justice L. Nageswara Rao has penned this judgment 

For the candidate: Advocate K. Parameshwar
For National Medical Commission: Advocate Gaurav Sharma
For the Medical College: Advocate Siddhant Buxy
Law made Easy

Under the Constitution


This right guarantees free and compulsory education for children between the age of 6 to 14 years in India under Article 21A of the Constitution of India.

  • Free education’ means that no child, other than a child who has been admitted by his or her parents to a school, shall be asked to pay any kind of fee/charges/expenses which may prevent him or her from pursuing and completing elementary education.
  • Compulsory education’ casts an obligation on the appropriate Government and local authorities to provide and ensure admission, attendance and completion of elementary education by all children in the 6-14 age groups.

Under the Right to Education Act, 2009


Focus:

  • Providing elementary education to a child (6-14 years) who does not/could not go to school. Such child to be admitted in age appropriate class and has the right to receive special training.
  • Seeks to provide children right to seek transfer from a government or govt. aided school to another such school in order to complete elementary education. Such child also has right to immediately seek a transfer certificate (TC).
  • Mandates non-minority private unaided schools to reserve at least 25% of their entry level seats for children belonging disadvantaged sections to create a more integrated and inclusive schooling system.
  • Mandates the appropriate government and local authorities to provide for children’s access to elementary schools within the defined area or limits of the neighbourhood.
  • Lays down the responsibilities of the State and Central government for carrying out provisions of the act.
  • Constitution of a School Management Committee (SMC). The role of this committee to manage, monitor and support a school in its functions.
  • Indicates that within 3 years from the date of commencement of the act, the appropriate government and local authority shall insure that the Pupil Teacher Ratio (PTR) is maintained in each school.

Ensures:

  • Compulsory and free education for all.
  • Special provision for special classes.
  • Minimum standards.
  • Admission for all.
  • Quality and quantity of teaching.
  • All-round development.
  • By the people, for the children.

Objectives:

  • Ensure that every child below the age of 14 gets free and compulsory education.
  • Curb the problem of illiteracy.

Ensure personal growth and in turn growth of the country.


This Article is a part of the ‘Know Your Rights’ series by Centre for Clinical Legal Education, Maharashtra National Law University, Mumbai 

Law made Easy

“Child” as defined by the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986 is a person who has not completed the age of fourteen years.

Children, by will or by force are employed to work in the harsh conditions and atmosphere which becomes a threat to their life.

No child (below the age of 14 years) shall be employed or permitted to work in any occupation or process.

Hiring children below the age of 14 years for any kind of work, other than in certain family-based work, is a cognizable offence and will attract a jail term of upto 2 years. Adolescents between the age of 14 – 18 years cannot be employed in any hazardous occupation.

Hazardous Employment

Hazardous child labour is work that is performed by children in dangerous and unhealthy conditions that can lead to a child being killed, injured or made ill as a result of poor safety and health standards or employment conditions. This is referred to as hazardous child labour.

Examples of hazardous employment are-

  • Anything that can cause spills or trips such as cords running across the floor or ice
  • Anything that can cause falls such as working from heights, including ladders, scaffolds, roofs, or any raised work area
  • Unguarded machinery and moving machinery parts that a worker can accidentally touch
  • Electrical hazards like frayed cords, missing ground pins, improper wiring
  • Confined spaces.

Rules for employing Adolescents

The Child Labour (Prevention and Regulation) Amendment Act allows adolescents to work in non-hazardous occupations and processes. If an adolescent is employed, the following conditions must be satisfied by the employer:

  • The period of work on each day should be fixed in a manner that no period or work would exceed three hours.
  • The adolescent must have an interval for rest for at least one hour after working for three hours.
  • The total time spent working by an adolescent cannot exceed 6 hours in a day, including the time spent in waiting for work.
  • Adolescents cannot be employed during the hours of 7PM to 8AM.
  • Adolescents cannot be made to work overtime.
  • Adolescents cannot work in more than one establishment, at anytime.
  • Adolescents must be provided in every week, a holiday of one whole day.

Punishments relating to child labour

  • For parents/guardians There shall not be any punishment in case of a first offence by parents/guardians. In case of a second and subsequent offence, the penalty prescribed is a maximum fine of Rs. 10,000.
  • For employer- Any offence committed by an employer which is punishable under the Child Labour act has been made a cognizable offence. Accordingly, the authorities can file a first information report and commence investigations into the offence without a court order and can arrest without a warrant.
  • PenaltyEmployment of a child or permitting a child to work in any occupation or process in contravention to the statute would lead to Imprisonment of: 6 months to 2 years Fine: Rs.20,000 to Rs. 50,000 or both.

How can we eliminate child labour from our society?

Education is a human right with immense power to transform. On its foundation rest the cornerstones of freedom, democracy and sustainable human development Child labour can limit the time and energy children spend on education. Many forms of child labour are prohibited in international standards. While child labour can be an obstacle to education, at the same time education is instrumental in the prevention of child labour.  Through education, parents and children alike become more aware of its benefits, and the harm that child labour can cause.  And access to education helps reduce poverty, one of the root causes of child labour. It can be concluded that education is the key to abolish child labour across the globe.

Role/Importance of education or Right to Education Act in eliminating child labour

The RTE act is not innovative law. Universal adult franchise in the act was opposed since most of the population was illiterate. Article 45 in the Constitution of India was set up as an act: “The State shall endeavour to provide, within a period of ten years from the commencement of this Constitution, for free and compulsory education for all children until they complete the age of fourteen years”

  • The Act makes education a fundamental right of every child between the ages of 6 and 14 and specifies minimum norms in elementary schools. It requires all private schools to reserve 25% of seats to children from poor families (to be reimbursed by the state as part of the public-private partnership plan).

STOP Child Labour- It promotes jobs & protects people.


*This Article is a part of the ‘Know Your Rights’ series by Centre for Clinical Legal Education, Maharashtra National Law University, Mumbai 

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The 3-judge bench of Ashok Bhushan, R. Subhash Reddy and MR Shah, JJ has dismissed an appeal against the Allahabad High Court order refusing to interfere in the matter relating to the regulation of fees structure in Universities and Central Institutions

The plea filed by a law student pursuing LLM at Rajiv Gandhi School of Intellectual Property Law, IIT Kharagpur seeking issuance of directions to the Ministry of Education and University Grant Commission for framing guidelines to regulate the fees structure considering the lack of unanimity in structuring fees resulting into institutions charging full fees even for online classes.

The petition states,

“the tuition fee which will be charged by the institution amid online semester is not arbitrary but the other miscellaneous fee charged is indeed arbitrary.”

The petition highlighted that IIT Kharagpur issued the official notification to its students for starting the online semester tentatively from the last week of August and uploaded the full fees for its students in their institute’s login id and had instructed it to be paid before 27th July 2020. The impugned notification demands all the requisite fees charged against all other facilities which are provided viz. electricity, computer, library, Wi-Fi/ internet, laboratory, mess etc which are in no manner going to be utilized by the student during this period.

The key points highlighted by the petitioner in the petition were:

  • the action of the institution by charging more fees without service will be against the principle of rule of law. Every State Action must be informed by reason and it follows that an act uninformed by reason, is arbitrary. Rule of law contemplates governance by laws and not by humour, whims or caprices of the men to whom the governance is entrusted for the time being.
  • not providing any substantial guidelines will make the fee issues being unaddressed, resulting in charging more fees than expected, thereby leading to de-registration of students on non-payment of fees.
  • parents should not be made to pay for the services which have not been rendered by the schools. All schools, irrespective of whether they offered online classes during lockdown period or not, are only entitled to collect the tuition fee.
  • the salary of teaching and non-teaching staff should be paid even during the lockdown. The guidelines to be issued must be in consonance and proportionate with the salary to be paid to teaching staff and non-teaching staff.

The Supreme Court, however, refused to interfere in the matter and dismissed the SLP.

[Saransh Chaturvedi v. Union of India, special leave to appeal (c) no(s).10722/2020, order dated 25.09.2020]

Case BriefsCOVID 19High Courts

“Education is the passport to the future.”

Delhi High Court: A Division Bench of Manmohan and Sanjeev Narula, JJ., while addressing the issue with regard to digital education observed that

“…tuition fee was payable towards imparting education and “not for a lien on a seat”

Schools imparting Synchronous Face-to-face Real-Time Online Education, not as a voluntary service but as a part of their responsibility under the RTE Act, 2009.

DIGITAL DIVIDE

Inequality in education has been around long before Covid-19, but the pandemic has exacerbated the same by adding another strand/element to it, namely, the digital divide.

Reopening of physical classroom

Unparalleled education disruption from the Covid-19 pandemic is far from over, as, despite lapse of nearly six months, the Union of India and the Government of NCT of Delhi are yet to announce a date for reopening of the physical classroom for elementary schools.

Concern in the present petition

The instant Public Interest Litigation was filed seeking a direction to respondents to supply free laptops/android mobile phones/electronic tablets with high-speed internet to children belonging to the Economically Weaker Section (EWS) so that they could attend their classes by way of video conferencing just like fee-paying students in their classes.

During the pendency of the present petition, some other schools also started online classes, the petitioner sought modification in the prayer clause to include children studying in these schools, so that comprehensive orders could be passed under Article 21A of the Constitution of India for all the children other than fee-paying students.

Analysis and Decision

Article 21A of the Constitution imposes an enforceable/justiciable obligation upon the State to provide free and compulsory elementary education to each and every child between the age of six and fourteen in a manner as determined by law.

In pursuance of the above stated constitutional obligation, the Centre enacted the RTE Act, 2009.

Court cited the Supreme Court decision in Ashoka Kumar Thakur v. Union of India, (2008) 6 SCC 1, wherein it was held that,

Universal elementary education as a constitutional goal and obligation is a salutary principle and while interpreting the provisions of the RTE Act, 2009, Article 21A has to be the guiding principle.

Supreme Court in Jindal Stainless Ltd. v. State of Haryana, (2017) 12 SCC 1 held that,

“…the Constitution being a living and dynamic document ought to receive a dynamic and pragmatic interpretation that harmonizes and balances competing aims and objectives and promotes attainment of natural goods and objections.”

RTE Act, 2009 is not a historical Act but an ‘always speaking statute’ which intends to achieve social, economic and political equity and human progress over a period of time.

Court observed that,

RTE Act, 2009 is not a static but a living and a dynamic document and it ought to receive a pragmatic interpretation.

Consistent with the legislative intent, an updating construction has to be applied to RTE Act, 2009 and the Court of law can deal with a drastically changed situation, like Covid-19 pandemic, even if it was not known or visualized by Parliament when the Act was enacted.

Adding to its’ analysis, Court stated that the new National Education Policy, 2020 prepared by the Government of India states that education is fundamental for achieving full human potential, developing an equitable and just society, and promoting national development.

Why the RTE Act, 2009 does not define the word ‘Education’?

Bench in the present matter was of the view that the RTE Act, 2009 intentionally does not define the word Education as it needs to deal with changes in society as well as technological advances, outbreak of diseases, natural calamities and a broad range of circumstances that are not possible to anticipate in advance.

Concept of synchronous face-to-face real-time online education

The concept of Synchronous Face-to-Face Real Time Online Education like any other alternate means/methods of dissemination of education, in that sense, is covered under the RTE Act, 2009.

The teaching through online means is in accordance with the RTE Act, 2009 requirements.

Adding to the above, the Court stated that at the present, the neighborhood schools are still open but the physical classrooms are closed and the mode of providing education has changed.

Court is of the view that tuition fees are payable towards imparting education and not for a lien on a seat. Accordingly, the word Education includes Synchronous Face-to-Face Real Time Online Education and respondent schools are estopped from contending to the contrary.

Differential Fee Structure

Section 12(2) of the RTE Act, 2009 unequivocally proves the existence of a differential fee structure amongst private unaided schools and consequently, differential methods/means of dissemination of instructions amongst the private schools.

Further, the Court added that just as private schools are free to adopt the mode of the method of imparting education they feel the most appropriate, the government schools also have similar freedom and flexibility.

There is neither any statutory obligation under the RTE Act, 2009 nor any recommendation by any statutory authority like State Academic Authority that the Synchronous Face-to-Face Real Time Online Education is the only suitable option during a pandemic.

High Court also opined that in view of the geographical location of a school or non-availability of technologically savvy teachers or poor availability of electricity or lack of internet penetration in the neighbourhood, it may also not be appropriate for a school to opt for Synchronous Face-to-Face Real Time Online Education.

There has to be one common minimum level/standard of impartation of education for all schools. Further, the said school has to then ensure that the same is uniformly adopted and followed sans any discrimination.

Bench opined that

Synchronous Face-to- Face Real Time Online Education is neither a core nor a non-derogable facet of either Article 21A of the Constitution or the RTE Act, 2009.

High Court was of the view that it cannot be said that the education being provided by GNCTD schools does not satisfy the basic minimum required level of impartation of education in the present extraordinary scenario.

Private Unaided Schools

The tuition fee charged by the private unaided schools is governed and regulated by the DSE Act and the same does not include expenses on devices such as laptops, phones, high-speed internet at children‟s homes, etc.

Even though the cost of such gadget/digital equipment which enables access to online learning facilities is not a part of tuition fee, yet it has to be provided free of cost to the EWS / DG students in terms of Section 12(1)(c) read with Section 3(2) of the Act, 2009 as cost of such equipment would be covered under Rule 11 of the Central RTE Rules, 2010 as well as Rule 10 of the Delhi RTE Rules, 2011 and Section 3(2) of the RTE Act, 2009 inasmuch as absence of such equipment ‘will prevent the child from pursuing his or her elementary education‘ at par with other students in the same class in the present scenario.

DIGITAL DIVIDE

To ensure a level playing field and to remedy this digital divide or digital gap or ̳digital apartheid‟ in addition to segregation, if the private unaided school has to bear any additional cost, it must bear it in the first instance with a right to claim reimbursement from the State in accordance with Section 12(2) of the RTE Act, 2009.

GNCTD must consider rewarding the schools that innovate.

Intra-class discrimination, especially inter-se 75% fee paying students viz-a-viz 25% EWS/DG students‟ upsets the ̳level playing field‘ and amounts to discrimination as well as creates a vertical division, digital divide or digital gap or „digital apartheid‘ in addition to segregation in a classroom which is violative of RTE Act, 2009 and Articles 14, 20 and 21 of the Constitution.

High Court directs constitution of a three-member committee within a week comprising Secretary, Education, Ministry of Education, Central Government or his nominee, Secretary Education, GNCTD or his nominee and a representative of respondent No.18 to frame a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for identification of standard gadget(s)/equipment(s) as well as the manufacturer/supplier and internet package so that EWS/DG students can access elementary education through digital online means.

Further, the private unaided schools shall file their claims for reimbursement under Section 12(2) to the GNCTD within eight weeks from the date of supply of such gadget(s)/equipment(s).

“To achieve education for all, Digital Education is a major component of the solution, though not a replacement for formal classroom schooling, provided digital- divide is erased from Indian Society.”

Creating a better and resilient elementary education system is increasingly important as a child’s starting point in life determines his/her future.

Concurring with the above view, Sanjeev Narula, J. stated that,

In the present pandemic situation, the shift towards online education has taken place literally overnight, and without much deliberation. One could argue that the unprecedented situation warranted such a drastic switch over. Therefore, I do not find any fault with the approach of the schools that have adopted digital technology for imparting education. However, it is necessary to issue a note of caution here so that the modes and methods adapted during this extraordinary time are not seen as the quintessential purpose of the Act.

The scheme of Article 21A and the RTE Act rests on a twofold premise: to prevent financial and psychological barriers from hindering access to primary education of children, and, non-discrimination in the imparting of education.

Reservation for EWS
Children of the socially and economically weaker sections are normally unable to secure an admission in private schools due to their unaffordable fees. The RTE Act seeks to address this gap via section 12(1)(c) which mandates all private schools to reserve 25 per cent of their seats for children belonging to economically weaker sections and disadvantaged group.

DIGITAL ENABLEMENT

Imbalance in the imparting of education due to the non- availability of gadgets, internet connectivity and modes of access, has the potential of pushing the less-fortunate children outside the education system altogether. The digital enablement of EWS students, is thus, in my opinion, absolutely necessary.

The precious right guaranteed by the Constitution of India and the RTE Act has to be replicated in the online environment.

It is the responsibility of the schools and obligation of the State to assist EWS students to overcome all constraints that deprive them of meaningful education.

[Justice for All v. GNCTD, 2020 SCC OnLine Del 1217, decided on 18-09-2020]

Case BriefsCOVID 19High Courts

A great nation is built on a character of its own citizens. It transforms into the character of the nation leading to its progress achieved through a value system.

— Madras High Court

Madras High Court: The Division Bench of M.M. Sundresh and R. Hemalatha, JJ., while addressing the present petition with regard to concerns arising due to online classes  quoted Swami Vivekananda,

“We want the education by which character is formed, strength of mind is increased, the intellect is expanded, and by which one can stand on one’s own feet.”

EDUCATION

Further, explaining the concept of education, Court stated that,

“A man is both a creator and destroyer. Therefore, he is his own future. A better future can only be secured through the younger generation, existing and awaiting.”

The process of creating a good citizen has got multiple roadblocks created by various factors. Thus, Education will have to address this seminal issue without deviating towards more literacy in imparting knowledge without character.

RIGHT USE OF TECHNOLOGY IN IMPARTING EDUCATION

With the onslaught of information pouring through technology, it is imperative to make sure that the children are groomed in the right way. Further, it was added that as we know, technology as such cannot be faulted but only its wrong usage.

CONCERN

Present matter has raised concerns with regard to the usage of online classes hastened by the pandemic.

Online classes have become one of the necessities than an option as schools are yet to re-open.

Social Divide is another factor which unfortunately gets widened through the imparting of the present education between the rich and the poor through the varied curriculum, methodology and facilities.

At the time of filing of the writ petitions, guidelines of the Union of India and the State Government were not in existence.

Bench stated that since the Court has prefaced on the extensive and exhaustive guidelines of the Government of India and the State Government, therefore it refrains from going into the materials produced.

Hence Court only highlights the important aspects of the guidelines while concentrating on the issues flowing out of the same including the complaints made on the extensive usage by some of the overzealous institutions.

CYBER BULLYING

Specific instructions have also been given to avoid cyberbullying. Clear instructions have been given to students studying in different classes, Parents and Teachers. Schools have been instructed to balance both online and offline activities. Advice has been given to safety and ethical precautions.

ATTENDANCE

On the question of attendance, schools have been informed that it shall not be accounted as mandatory for performance evaluation purposes.

Decision

High Court on perusal of the above stated that this new form of Education is created by the technology which has been imposed upon us by the pandemic. Therefore, it should be used as an opportunity to deal with the situation until the normalcy is restored.

Digitalization has created distinct literate called digital literates.

The Institutions along with the Teachers and Parents will have to play their respective roles with all seriousness.

Court has noted that that there are certain schools that are overburdening in conducting the examinations, making the attendance mandatory and taking classes beyond the time limit mentioned in the guidelines.

Bench does not approve of the above.

Taking care of the interest of the children is the primary duty of the Parents, Teachers, Institutions, Government and the Court.

Court is of the firm view that that the guidelines are to get the trappings of the mandatory directions.

Further, it was also stated that classes of varied categories such as Government Schools which are few in existence, aided and un-aided schools, their curriculum is also different. In view of the said, Court held that the guidelines are to be complied with by all the stakeholders.

Usage of recorded versions of online classes through local television

It is for the respective schools to adopt their mode while keeping in mind the guidelines issued. However, they can also explore the possibility of going for the recorded classes as it would ease out the pressure from the point of view of the students. Similarly, recorded versions can be sent through Whatsapp apart from being uploaded in the school portals.

Keeping in mind the interests of children, bench issued the following directions:

  • Guidelines issued by the Government of India and the State Government are to be treated and construed as mandatory
  • Time limit for the online classes should be strictly adhered to and any violation would require action
  • State of Tamil Nadu and other bodies, with whom the Schools are affiliated, shall issue circulars to the Schools which are to be circulated in turn to the Parents towards the measures that are required to be taken to block obscene contents.
  • programmes conducted will have to be sent by Whatsapp to the Parents and uploaded in the school portals.
  • At every District level, the Government of Tamil Nadu and the other competent authorities are expected to set up a Committee to monitor and supervise the due compliance of the guidelines by the institutions. These Committees will have to meet once in a month.
  • Concerned schools will have to undertake the exercise of identifying the problems being faced by the parents and teachers in online connectivity and avilability of the device.
  • Schools can also allow group of students identified by them requiring special attendance in view of the difficulties faced in online and digital education to attend physical classes while following social distance.
  • Schools can also explore the possibility of Teachers going to the students and giving education if there exists a facility to do so.
  • Guidelines with regard to attendance, test and examination will have to be strictly complied with.
  • Guidelines with respect to pre-primary students will have to be complied with strictly.
  • Schools will also have to explore the possibility of having end-to-end encryption.
  • Guidelines of the State Government will have to be translated in Tamil, if not done already.
  • There shall be an interaction between the Schools and Parents on the functioning of the online/digital education, as many of them may not be digital literates.

Bench disposed of the petitions stating that it hopes the above-laid guidelines are complied with and makes it clear that all the directions are applicable to the Schools functioning in the Tamil Nadu. [R. Bharaneeswaran v. Government of Tamil Nadu, 2020 SCC OnLine Mad 2301 , decided on 09-09-2020]

COVID 19Hot Off The PressNews

After the All India Students Association has moved a letter petition on behalf of over 800 students earlier this month, a writ petition has been filed seeking suo moto congnizance of Supreme Court against the direction of CBSE to conduct the compartment examination amidst COVID-19 crisis.

The petition highlights that as per the CBSE Class X and XII results declared last month, around 150198 Class X students and around 87651 Class XII students were placed in the category of compartment full subject. When approached the Supreme Court, the students were asked to make representation before CBSE and upon doing so, CBSE, on August 6, 2020, without taking account of the present health crisis, provided for conduct of compartment exams.

Terming the said decision of CBSE to be in sheer violation of right to health which is part of right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution of India, the petition submits:

  • the conduct of compartment examination will expose the examinees to a great risk. The conduct of offline exam will entail students to travel from one place to another which will further involve the risk of shared accommodation, use of public transport, etc. The petition states that the conduct of examination will also increase the risk of the parents, teachers, staff members, etc being exposed to the virus.
  • the conduct of online exam will be against the interest of students who do not have proper access to internet/laptops/personal computers.
  • the decision of the CBSE is itself flawed as it is against the MHA Unlock III guideline dated 29.07.2020, which provides that the schools, colleges and educational institutions will remain closed.
  • many states including Bihar, Telangana and Manipur have cancelled their state board examination, in view of COVID 19. It is considering the exponential growth in the number of COVID-19 cases.
  • Ramesh Pokhriyal, Minister of Higher Education has stated that yet there is no date fixed for reopening schools and the safety of the students is a primary concern.

“When there is no deadline for opening of schools, how can the students be then expected to appear for compartment examination in the current situation.”

  • On 12.08.2020, C.B.S.E. issued a circular providing for the filing of the examination form for compartment examination by 20.08.2020 extended upto 22.08.2020 (with late fees) and that the compartment examination are proposed to be conducted in September. However, it did not specify any particular date, schedule or mode of conduction of the said examination.
  • many colleges are about to close admissions and some have already announced their admission closure date, which is adversely affecting the career of lacs of students, who will be deprived entrance into Universities/Colleges/Institutions, where they are eligible to apply for admission.

“… if an alternative mechanism is not derived, many students will lose an academic year.”

The Students have, hence, prayed that the universities/colleges/educational institutions, in which a student is eligible to apply, are directed to extend deadline for admission for academic year 2020-2021, until the result of the compartment examination is announced.

The students also sought for direction to direct the C.B.S.E. to provide for alternative mode of assessment for the students placed in the category compartment and to provide a specific date (at the earliest) for the completion of the assessment of compartment students so that their right to apply to various universities/colleges/educational institutions, who have already announced the admission closing date, is not affected.

IDIA

IDIA Scholar Jitendra Majhi, who got admission into National Law University Odisha, shares his story with us. Here’s about his journey to the law school (in his own words):

I am from a small tribal village called Renu, which is situated in the Gajapati district of Odisha. I belong to ‘Kandha’ tribe, which is known for its hunting style in Odisha. My family includes my father, my mother, my grandmother and my five siblings. Two of my sisters are married. My mother is very brave and is my inspiration. She is a homemaker and a farmer. My mother uses all the money that she earns for sustaining the family. She is supported by one of my elder sisters who is married and teaches in a government school. During summer vacations, me and my siblings also work to earn some money.

I did my schooling from Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences (KISS), which is for the tribal students. It is situated in Bhubaneswar. I got education and all other facilities free of cost there. My mother, who is herself illiterate, did my admission in KISS.

My mother is the inspiration for me to choose law as a career. I also wanted to pursue legal education, because I feel I can understand our society better through it. Legal education is necessary not only for becoming a good lawyer but also for becoming a well-aware citizen. There is no lawyer in my village or in my Gram Panchayat. Due to the absence of legal experts in our village, people from my village and from nearby villages face a lot of problems. That’s the reason I decided to become the first lawyer of my village. I want to lead my community in the future.

I came to know about IDIA when members of the IDIA Odisha Chapter came to our school and introduced us to law as a career option. They conducted a test for selecting IDIA trainees. I secured the highest marks amongst all the students who sat for the exam. Subsequently, IDIA provided me with some study material and started to teach me for the Common Law Admission Test. They were very friendly to me during my training period. When my class 12 exams were over, they took me to the National Law University Odisha, where they trained me for CLAT and AILET. All IDIA volunteers were very generous and friendly. They never made me feel that I come from an underprivileged background.

After completing my training, I appeared for the CLAT and AILET, which were my first competitive exams. I was very nervous. I was wondering about many things. How will I search for my name and room at the centre? How will I sit with people from more privileged backgrounds? At the time the CLAT result was published, I was in my village where network connectivity is a big issue. I always tried to be in touch with Raju (my social mentor at IDIA) by climbing the highest point in our village area to catch the signal. I became the first law student in my village. I also became the first student of my Panchayat to pursue legal education at a National Law University!


Jitendra had quite a few expectations before joining NLUO and he said – “I expected to meet with people from all over India in the university. I also expected that the university will provide me opportunities that I did not get earlier in my life and to hone my talents and skills. I also expected that I will learn different languages like English, Hindi, and more, and I will also gain knowledge about different cultures and traditions. I am very happy with the university and all my expectations are actually being met here.”

During his first semester vacation, he interned with the NGO Zenith Legal in Shivpuri, Madhya Pradesh where he worked on many legal aid causes such as manual scavenging and with victims of silicosis. He also made a presentation on “Tribal Rights”.


About IDIA:

IDIA is a pan-India movement to train underprivileged students and help transform them into leading lawyers and community advocates. IDIA is premised on the notion that access to premier legal education empowers marginalized communities and helps them help themselves. IDIA selects and trains students from underprivileged backgrounds (IDIA Trainees) to crack top law entrance examinations in India. Once they are admitted to top law colleges, it provides a scholarship to these students (IDIA Scholars) that comprises financial support, training and mentorship among other things.

Read more about IDIA here: https://www.idialaw.org/

Get in touch with them here: info@idialaw.org


SCC Online is now on Telegram and Instagram. Join our channel @scconline on Telegram and @scconline_ on Instagram and stay updated with the latest legal news from within and outside India

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madras High Court: A Division Bench of N. Kirubakaran and V.M. Velumani, JJ., while addressing a matter with regard to child labour and the corrupt government officials existing in the system stated that,

“Parents should take care of their children and owing to their helplessness, they cannot send their children to work when the Government is providing education free of cost and also, free food apart from scholarships.”

On the directions of this Court, Superintendent of Police, Assistant Commissioner of Labour, Tiruppur along with Child Welfare Committee officials had raided the Chenniyappa Yarn Spinners (P) Ltd., however, no child labour was found. 

Chairperson, Child Welfare Board submitted that on an earlier date when the raid was conducted, during that time two child labour was to be working on the premises along with a few adolescents.

Few adolescents who were working at 8th respondents company stated that they were not willing to work as they were underpaid and working conditions were also not proper.

In view of the above situation, workers were rescued and kept at “SNEHA CHILD HOME”, Tiruppur and later handed over to their parents.

Court also enquired a few adolescent workers working in the 8th respondent company, who stated that they were not facing any problems working there but the Court observed that the said children were school-going children and it is known as to how they were entrusted with work when they had to go to school.

Bench also observed that the children were being tutored to speak and say statements that they were being educated while working, which on the face of it looks false.

It is also brought to the notice of this Court that some of the children, who have written the Plus Two Examination are unaware that the results have been declared. When that is the position, it is very difficult to believe that the Company is providing education to them.

Another significant fact that was brought to the notice of the Court was that most of the adolescent children were brought during the pandemic period to work in the 8th respondent company and no proper e-passes were obtained.

To bring children from one district to another without e-passes only implies that if money is paid, the authorities would bend and flout the Rules.

Bench added to its decision that the present case is a classic case that demonstrates as to how corrupt government servants utilize any situation to make an illegal gain.

Media has widely reported about the instances of getting e-passes by payment to authorities. This aspect has to be looked into seriously by the Government.

“…some of the corrupt officials, who are involved in issuing e-passes are bent upon making booty even in this worst scenario.”

“Cruel bloodthirsty wolves and they should be dealt with an iron hand.”

Court was shocked to note existence of cut-throat corrupt officials existing in the system.

Bench directed the 8th respondent to file an affidavit as to how they were able to bring the children to company premises without e-passes during the lockdown period.

The present case is only the tip of an iceberg as hundreds of such companies are in existence with rampant child labour, therefore police officials need to be vigilant and cautious of this social menace and hence conduct frequent raids to curb the same.

Matter has been listed for 20-08-2020. [C.M. Sivababu v. State of T.N., HCP No. 1299 of 2020, decided on 07-08-2020]

Hot Off The PressNews

UGC issues notice that no employing Higher Educational Institutions shall keep in their possession any teacher’s original academic certificates/documents which is akin to depriving them of their rights.
The public notice stated,
It has come to the notice of UGC that many of the universities/colleges/institutes collect the original academic certificates, mark-sheets etc. at the time of issuing employment contracts to the teachers and the continue to retain those documents with them.
Due to the above-stated, teachers face a tough time recovering their certificates from their employer educational institutions when they leave their job. Many even have to forego their better prospects as they are not able to recover their documents in time.
Read the notice here: NOTICE

University Grants Commission
[Public Notice dt. 11-08-2020]
COVID 19Hot Off The PressNews

All India Students Association has moved a letter petition on behalf of over 800 students seeking suo moto congnizance of Supreme Court against the direction of CBSE to conduct the compartment examination amidst COVID-19 crisis.

The petition highlights that as per the CBSE Class X and XII results declared last month, around 150198 Class X students and around 87651 Class XII students were placed in the category of compartment full subject.

When approached the Supreme Court, the students were asked to make representation before CBSE and upon doing so, CBSE, on August 6, 2020, without taking account of the present health crisis, provided for conduct of compartment exams.

Terming the said decision of CBSE to be in sheer violation of right to health which is part of right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution of India, the petition submits that the conduct of compartment examination will expose the examinees to a great risk. The conduct of offline exam will entail students to travel from one place to another which will further involve the risk of shared accommodation, use of public transport, etc. The petition states that the conduct of examination will also increase the risk of the parents, teachers, staff members, etc being exposed to the virus.

Regarding conduct of online exam, the petition submits that the same will be against the interest of students who do not have proper access to internet/laptops/personal computers.

The petition also highlights that CBSE has not given any clarity yet on neither the date of the compartment exam nor the mode of conduct. Many colleges are about to close admissions, which will adversely affect the careers of lacs of students who will be deprived entrance into the Institutions of their choice.

It is also submitted that the decision of the CBSE is itself flawed as it is against the MHA Unlock III guideline dated 29.07.2020, which provides that the schools, colleges and educational institutions will remain closed. The petition also states that many states have cancelled the conduct of examinations considering the exponential growth in the number of COVID-19 cases.

It further brings to Court’s notice that the Ramesh Pokhriyal, Minister of Higher Education stated yesterday that yet there is no date fixed for reopening schools and the safety of the students is a primary concern. When there is no deadline for opening of schools, how can the students be then expected to appear for compartment examination in the current situation.

The students, in their petition, state that they are not contending the importance of exams but are seeking appropriate direction of the Court only till the situation normalises. They have urged the Court to stay CBSE decision till the situation normalises. They also pray that steps for alternative system of evaluation be formulated and that provisional passing certificates may be given to the students until COVID-19 situation normalises, so that the students are not deprived of admission to colleges.

Hot Off The PressNews

The Delhi Government has issued a new circular dated 16.07.20 wherein they have shared  details regarding SMCs being reconstituted by a draw of lots. This circular has added information regarding tenure of such constituted SMCs, which was missing from the previous circular dated 01.07.20. The new circular states that these SMCs are being re-constituted only until elections can be held after the situation returns to normalcy. This signals a clear significant shift in the stance of Delhi Government in the aftermath of writ petition[1] filed in the Delhi High Court where in the Delhi Government had submitted that the SMCs being constituted by a draw of lots was only a stopgap arrangement

In the abovementioned petition, the petitioners had challenged the circular dated 1.07.2020[2] and prayed that the circular be quashed. The petitioners argued that the circular violated the spirit of the act as it didn’t allow parents to participate in the process of choosing who will represent them in SMCs. They contended  that extending tenure of the previous SMCs was a better option than reconstituting SMCs through a draw of lots. They gave examples of other states where tenure of SMCs were extended. The counsel for the petitioner, Garima Sharma, argued that it was a better option since members of existing SMCs already had experience of working in a SMC.

Despite the fact that the Delhi Government has been holding elections since RTE was implemented, the respondents submitted that there was no mandate to hold elections and that the Government had issued the impugned circular only as a stopgap arrangement.

The order released by the Delhi High Court on 14.07.20 has recorded the Delhi Government submitting in court  that the impugned circular has been issued “only as a stopgap arrangement and the SMCs so constituted by following the procedure as laid down in the impugned Circular shall continue till elections can be held after normalcy returns.” A fact that didn’t find any mention in the impugned circular dated 01.07.20.

The circular calls upon the head of schools to complete the reconstitution process of the SMCs through a draw of lots by the 21st of July, 2020.


[1] Indra v. Government of NCT of Delhi, Writ Petition (C) No. 4076 of 2020, dated 13-07-2020

[2]  http://www.edudel.nic.in/upload/upload_2017_18/117_129_dt_01072020.PDF

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The 3-judge bench of Dr. DY Chandrachud, Indu Malhotra and KM Joseph, JJ has refused to entertain a public interest litigation seeking directions for uniform education with a common syllabus and curriculum for all children aged between 6-14 years across the country.  The Court was hearing the PIL filed by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay.

Suggesting to opt “one nation one education board”, the petition had also sought directions from the court to merge the Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE) and the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE). Petitioner argued that the reliefs which have been claimed are founded on the provisions of Article 21A of the Constitution and on the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act 2009.

“the present educational system does not provide equal opportunity to students of all strata of society.”

The Court was, however, of the opinion that it is not within the domain of this Court under Article 32 of the Constitution to direct the constitution of a National Education Council or National Education Commission.

“These are matters which fall within the domain of experts. Similarly, the relief which has been of introducing a “standard textbook with a chapter on the Constitution” is a matter of policy. The school syllabus contains subjects bearing on the knowledge of rights, duties and governance under the Constitution.”

Asking the petitioner to approach the Government with his prayer, the Court said,

“The petition lays no foundation or justiciable basis for the Court to issue directions of this nature. … This is nothing but an effort to confer legitimacy on the petitioner’s attempt to enter into an area of educational policy.”

The ICSE and the CBSE are national-level boards of education in the country for schools.

[Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay v. Union of India, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 580 , order dated 17.07.2020]

Case BriefsCOVID 19High Courts

Delhi High Court: Naveen Chawla, J. in an order dated 13th July, 2020 has refused to interdict a Delhi government circular which directed reconstitution of School Management Committees through a draw of lots instead of holding elections.The petitioners had challenged the circular dated 1.07.2020 and prayed that the circular be squashed. The petitioners argued that extending tenure of the previous SMCs was a better option than reconstituting SMCs through a draw of lots. They gave examples of other states where tenure of SMCs were extended. The counsel for the petitioner argued that it was a better option since members of existing SMCs already had experience of working.

Despite the fact that the Delhi Government has been holding elections since RTE was implemented, the respondents submitted that there was no mandate to hold elections and that the Government had issued the impugned circular only as a stopgap arrangement. The Circular shall continue till elections can be held after normalcy returns. The Counsel for the respondent government also mentioned that the petitioners had concealed that they have applied under the circular. The petitioners submitted that it was a bonafide mistake.

After listening to arguments from both sides, the Court stated that since elections cannot be held because of COVID 19, such extraordinary situations would require certain extraordinary measures to be taken by the respondents. The Court noted that respondents seem to have chosen one of the various alternatives that were available. With online classes for the Government schools having started there is an urgent need for the constitution of the SMCs.  The Court did not deem it fit to interdict the process started by the respondents at the present stage.and listed the matter for October 21st.

The order has recorded the government submitting in court that the impugned circular has been issued “only as a stopgap arrangement and the SMCs so constituted by following the procedure as laid down in the impugned Circular shall continue till elections can be held after normalcy returns.” A fact that didn’t find any mention in the impugned circular dated 01.07.20.

[Indra v. Government of NCT of Delhi, Writ Petition (C) No. 4076 of 2020, order dated 13-07-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: In a writ petition filed to challenge a Delhi Government Circular which laid down arbitrary instructions to reconstitute the School Management Committee through a draw of lots instead of elections, a bench comprising of Navin Chawla, J. expressing concerns on the matter, has relisted the matter to be heard on Monday, the 13th of July, 2020. The draw of lots for the School Management Committees was to be held by 11th July which now stands postponed till any order is passed on the date of the next hearing.

The School Management Committees (SMCs) are constituted under Section 21 of the Right to Education Act, 2009 and consist mainly of elected parents of the school students. They perform various functions such as monitoring working of school, preparing school development plans, monitoring utilization of funds and perform other functions as prescribed.

On 1st July, the Delhi Government had issued a circular by which SMCs were to be reconstituted through a draw of lots instead of elections right in the middle of the pandemic. Only a week’s time was given to file nominations which could only be filed online. The petitioners contested the circular, praying that the circular be quashed and argued that the reconstitution of SMCs should  be postponed by at least 6 months and/or when normalcy is restored. The petitioner submitted to the Court  that the outbreak of the virus was not a reasonable explanation for adopting the lottery system for constituting SMCs which is otherwise an elected body. They argued that it cannot be the case that the respondents were left with no option but to violate the law.The petitioners drew comparison with the decision of the Punjab Government, which has issued a circular dated 04.06.2020[1] that extended the tenure of the current SMC till 30.09.2020 and postponed the reconstitution due to the circumstances arising out of COVID-19.

They had also prayed that whenever SMCs are reconstituted, it should be through elections, with an appropriate time given to file nominations and with the option to file nominations offline. The next hearing on this matter will be on Monday, 13th July.

[Indra v. Government of NCT of Delhi, Writ Petition (C) No. 4076 of 2020, dated 10-07-2020]


Read the details of the petition here

[1] Circular No. 17/6-2018 Services(2)/224-26