Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madras High Court: P. Velmurugan, J., directs Schools to keep a complaint box to make the victims complain about the sexual assault freely and keys of the same to be kept under the control of Secretary District Legal Services Authority.

Factual background

On the date of occurrence, when PW 2, the victim girl was going to attend School while crossing the appellant’s residence, the appellant/accused invited her to his house and with an intent to assault her sexually saying that he will tell the story of Jesus, sexually assaulted her.

It was stated that the appellant touched the victim girl all over her body, removed the bottom of Churidar, embarrassed her and kissed her in right cheek with sexual intent, which involved physical contact without penetration and further the accused threatened the victim girl to come to his house with an intention to repeat the same on her.

In view of the above set of circumstances, the present case was registered against the appellant.

Victim girl stated that after the above-stated occurrence she went to her classroom and intimated the same to her friend who was examined as PW 7 and she clearly spoke about the offence committed by the appellant.

It was noted that the age of the victim girl was 12 years at the time of occurrence and hence the victim was a child under the definition of Section 2(1)(d) of POCSO Act.

High Court stated that the appellant being the head of Religious Institution committed sexual assault on the victim child, who was aged about 12 years at the time of occurrence. Hence the act of appellant came under Section 9(f) punishable under Section 10 of the POCSO Act.

Court on perusal of the evidence produced, opined that the accused failed to rebut the presumption under Section 29 and 30 of the POCSO Act. Trial Court rightly appreciated the evidence of the prosecution and came to the conclusion that appellant/accused committed an offence under Section 9(1) punishable under Section 10 of the POCSO Act.

Bench dismissed the criminal appeal and upheld the trial Court’s decision.

High Court’s recommendation

Further, the Court expressed that normally female students would get fear in lodging complaints against Teacher or Management of School regarding sexual offences, considering their future, hence Government of Tamil Nadu shall form a committee at every school, consisting of the Social Welfare Officer, the Secretary of District Legal Services Authorities, female Police Official not below the rank of District Superintendent of Police, District Educational Officer, female Psychiatrist and Physician from the Government Hospital.

District Educational Officer may inspect the School once in a month to get grievance of the female students with regard to sexual assault and give confidence to the female children to come forward to make complaints against the sexual offenders, who may be a teaching or non-teaching staff and also the members of the Management of the School. [S. Jayaseelan v. State,  2021 SCC OnLine Mad 2580, decided on 12-07-2021]


Advocates before the Court:

For Appellant: Mr S. Samuel Raja Pandian for M/s. M.K. Selvakumar

For Respondent: Mrs T.P. Savitha Government Advocate (Crl.Side)

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Kerala High Court: The Division Bench comprising of S.Manikumar, CJ., and Shaji P. Chaly, J., addressed the issue of disparity shown by the State regarding grant of scholarship to the minority community in the State. The Bench held that,

“The orders passed by the State Government viz., Exhibits P2, P3 and P4 show that clear discrimination is shown by favoring a particular minority community by providing scholarships in the ratio of 80:20 i.e., 80% to Muslims and 20% to the Latin Catholic Christians and Converted Christians, which is not the letter and spirit of the provisions of the Act, 1992 and the Act, 2014. Moreover, the mandates contained under Articles 14 and 15 of the Constitution of India are clearly violated by the State Government in the matter of the award of scholarships.”

Factual Fulcrum of the Case

The Union Government under the Prime Minister’s New 15 point programmes for the welfare of minorities had announced scholarship schemes for students from minority communities. On the basis of the scheme formulated, Scholarships were to be given on merit cum means basis. The petitioner, a member of Roman Catholic community, one of the minority communities, contended before the Court that while implementing various schemes in the State of Kerala there was marked discrimination favouring one minority against the other without any rationale. Therefore, under the cover of minority rights, the State government was supporting a particular section.

The predominant contention advanced by the petitioner was that, contrary to the said scheme, without any rationale, the State Government issued Exhibit P4 order bearing dated 08-05-2015 that reservation among the Muslims and other minority communities will be in the ratio of 80:20 i.e., 80% to Muslim Community and 20% to Latin Christians and Converted Christians. It was further stated that 30% of the seats shall be reserved for girls. Therefore, the petitioner contended that the fixation of ratio was arbitrary, unjust and illegal and accordingly violative of Articles 14 and 15 of the Constitution of India. Therefore, according to the petitioner, it is clear

Disparity among Equals

In Exhibit P2, the General Administration Department (Minority Cell) stated that on the basis of the study conducted by Paloly Muhammed Kutty Committee regarding the implementation of Justice Rajindar Sachar Commission report in Kerala, a minority cell was formed and started functioning in the Secretariat. Exhibit P3 order specified that on the basis of the report of the committee specified above, Government had decided that the Latin Catholics and Converted Christian girl students were only permitted to get 20% of the total number of scholarships/hostel stipends, which were given to Muslim girl students and further that, the number of scholarships/hostel stipends, which were given to Muslim girl students would continue as Rs.5000/- and Rs.2000/- respectively. The crucial aspect therein is that the reservation among Muslims and other minority communities was in the ratio 80:20 and 30% of seats would be reserved for girl students.

Constitutional and Statutory Mandate

Section 2(c) of the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992 define ‘minority’ for the purposes of the Act to mean a community notified by the Central Government. It was undisputed that the Central Government had notified six religious communities viz., Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Zoroastrians (Parsis) and Jains, in the gazette of India. On a reading of section 9 and section 2(c) of the Act, 1992 and Kerala State Commission for Minorities Act, 2014 along with the notification so issued, it could be clearly seen that the functions of the Commission should govern the overall development of the minority communities as such without discriminating by and between the minority communities so identified. Thus, the Bench opined,

“The National Commission and the State Commission are not entitled to segregate such backwardness among the minorities so as to protect the interests of any particular minority.”

Basically, the rights available to minority communities stem out from Article 29 of the Constitution dealing with protection of interest of minorities. A conjoint reading of Articles 29 and 30 makes it clear that while granting any aid by the State to educational institutions the State should not discriminate against any educational institution on the ground that it was under the management of a minority whether based on religion or language, which in fact clearly translate the true intention of the framers of the Constitution.

Findings of the Court

The Bench opined that was clear from the 2011 census that the total population of minority communities in Kerala was 45.27% out of which 58.67% was Muslims and 40.6% was Christians and the balance 0.73% constituted other minority communities. The Bench remarked,

“There is nothing wrong in the State Government providing facilities to weaker sections of the community, but when it comes to dealing with the notified minorities, it has to treat them equally, and it is not vested with any powers to treat them unequally, which is quite discernible from the provisions of the Constitution and the laws discussed above.”

Relying on the decision of the Supreme Court in Chinnaiah v. State of A.P., (2005)1 SCC 394, wherein the Court had considered the issue with respect to sub-classification among the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and held that, “except for a limited power of making an exclusion or inclusion in the list by an act of Parliament, there is no provision either to sub-divide, subclassify or sub-group the castes which are found in the presidential list of Scheduled Castes”, the Bench held that,

“State is indulging in providing scholarship to the Muslim minority community at 80%, which according to us, is an unconstitutional act and unsupported by any law. Mere executive orders issued by the State Government cannot overreach the provisions of the Minority Commissions Acts, 1992 and 2014, and the imperatives contained under the provisions of the Constitution of India discussed above.”

Verdict

In the above backdrop, the Bench held that the action of the State Government in sub-classifying the minorities by providing merit-cum-means scholarship at 80% to Muslim community and 20% to the Latin Catholic Christians and Converted Christians could not be legally sustained. Hence, the impugned orders were quashed and the State Government was directed to pass requisite and appropriate orders providing merit-cum-means scholarship to the notified minority communities in accordance with the latest population census available with the State Minority Commission.[Justine Pallivathukkal v. State of Kerala, 2021 SCC OnLine Ker 2551, decided on 28-05-2021]


Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.


Appearance before the Court by:

For the Petitioner: Sr. Adv. Raju Joseph, Adv. J.Julian Xavier, Adv. Firoz K.Robin, Adv. Roy Joseph, Adv. Jose. V.V., Adv. Aannies Mathew and Adv. E.Haridas

For the State of Kerala: GP K.V.Sohan, State Attorney P.Vijayakumar, ASGI Haris Beeran and Adv. O.A.Nuriya

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Rajasthan High Court: The Division Bench of Sabina and Manoj Kumar Vyas, JJ. dismissed the appeal and upheld the impugned order.

Facts

The facts of the case are such that the Appellants Mahender Parasar and Gajanand Meena have also filed an appeal challenging the order passed by the learned Single Judge alleging that they possess the qualification of B.A. (Additional) English and had been ousted from the selection process initiated vide Advertisement dated 31.07.2018.

Submissions

Counsel for the appellants submitted that As per Ordinance 203-I, for Bachelor of Arts, appellants had got additional degree in English by taking all the papers in one year after completing their graduation degree. The marks obtained by the candidates in additional examination were liable to be counted along with the marks obtained by them in their graduation degree. Thereafter, the appellants did their Bachelor in Education with English as a teaching subject. As per Ordinance 322 of the University of Rajasthan relating to B. Ed. qualification, a candidate, who had taken Bachelor’s Degree from the University, shall be eligible for admission to the examination for the degree of Bachelor of Education. As per Note (v) of the said Ordinance, the additional optional subject of Bachelor’s Degree Examination in which a candidate passes in one year with all the papers prescribed for the three years course after obtaining the Bachelor’s Degree may be treated as a teaching subject. The marks obtained by the candidate in the additional optional subject would be taken into the account along with marks obtained at the Bachelor’s Degree for determining his eligibility for admission to B. Ed. course.

Counsel for the respondents submitted that the candidates, who had qualified language examination by way of the additional subject after taking all the three examinations in one year, were not entitled to be considered for the post of Language Teacher, as they had not studied language subject for three years while doing graduation degree.

Observations

The Court relied on judgment Govt. of NCT of Delhi v. Sachin Gupta, 2013 SCC OnLine Del 3045 observed as per the Rules, for the teacher of language for Class VI to Class VIII, the candidate must have passed graduation or equivalent examination with the corresponding language as an optional subject. Thus, the rule itself is clear that the candidate must have passed graduation with corresponding language as an optional subject. Advertisements dated 11.09.2017 and 31.07.2018 have also been issued in terms of Amended Rule 266(3) of the Rules and a condition has been incorporated in the advertisements that for the teacher of language for Class VI to Class VIII, the candidate must have passed graduation or equivalent examination with the corresponding language as an optional subject.

The Court also observed that although as per Ordinance 203-I, Clause (8)(i), a candidate who has passed the graduation has been permitted to take examination in any one of the optional subject in a subsequent year, if he is not registered for any other examination of the University in the same year. Such a candidate will be given a certificate to that effect and would be required to appear in all the papers of that subject in one and the same year. The said additional optional subject has also been treated as a teaching subject for Bachelor of Education course as per Ordinance 322 reproduced above. But the fact remains that so far as the rules are concerned, the fact that a person who qualifies the concerned language by way of additional optional subject after qualifying Bachelor’s Degree, would also be eligible to be appointed as a language teacher for Class VI to Class VIII, is not specifically reflected in the Rules. Rather as per the Rules, for the teacher of language, the candidate must have passed graduation with the corresponding language as an optional subject. Thus, the requirement of the rule is that a candidate must have studied the subject concerned as an optional subject for three years while pursuing graduation course. In case the State wanted that a candidate, who had got one year additional degree in the subject concerned, was also eligible for appointment as a teacher in the said language, the necessary addition to this effect would have been made in the Rules.

Decision

The Court thus held “After carefully examining the facts and circumstances of the case, we are of the opinion that the learned Single Judge had, thus, rightly allowed the writ petitions filed by private respondents keeping in view the relevant rules. Learned Single Judge had rightly held that the candidates, who had acquired certificate/degree as “additional” in the concerned subject were liable to be excluded from the select list. The candidates, who were in possession of graduate degree as optional subject of three years Bachelor’s Degree with English as an optional subject in all the three years, were to be treated as eligible and entitled for appointment to the post of Teacher Grade-III Level-II (English), as per their merit. The advertisements-in-question have also been issued as per Amended Rule 266(3) of the Rules.”

In view of the above, appeals were dismissed.[Pawan Swaroop v. State of Rajasthan, D. B. Civil Special Appeal (Writ) No. 1143/2018, decided on 25-03-2021]


Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Kerala High Court: Anil K Narendran, J., allowing the present writ petition, issued necessary directions to the respondent authorities and further made noticeable observations with respect to the issuance of show cause notice and adequate opportunity of being heard.

Brief Facts

The facts of the case are summarized hereunder;

  1. That petitioner 1 is a society registered under the Travancore-Cochin Literary, Scientific and Charitable Societies Registration Act, 1955, which is running Christ Nagar College of Education imparting B.Ed course on the strength of recognition granted by the National Council for Teacher Education (for brevity, ‘the NCTE’) and the affiliation granted by respondent 3, Kerala University.
  2. That the Southern Regional Committee of the NCTE has withdrawn the recognition granted to the petitioner’s institution, invoking Section 17 of the NCTE Act, 1993.
  3. That petitioner 2 is the Principal of institution stated above and have collectively approached the High Court with petitioner 1, against the aforementioned order of the Regional Committee.

Issue

  1. Whether the proceedings initiated against the petitioner’s institution under sub-section (1) of Section 17 of the NCTE Act, for withdrawal of recognition can be sustained in law? 

Observations

  • The Court in addition to its decision cited relevant provisions of the NCTE Act and the allied Rules; Section 12 of the NCTE Act deals with functions of the Council; “As per Section 12, it shall be the duty of the Council to take all such steps as it may think fit for ensuring planned and coordinated development of teacher education and for the determination and maintenance of standards for teacher education and for the purposes of performing its functions under this Act” , Section 13 deals with inspection; “As per sub-section (1) of Section 13, for the purposes of ascertaining whether the recognized institutions are functioning in accordance with the provisions of this Act, the Council may cause inspection of any such institution, to be made by such persons as it may direct, and in such manner as may be prescribed”, Section 14 deals with recognition of institutions offering course or training in teacher education, Section 15 deals with permission for a new course or training by recognized institution, Section 16 states, “notwithstanding anything contained in any other law for the time being in force, no examining body shall, on or after the appointed day, (a) grant affiliation, whether provisional or otherwise, to any institution; or (b) hold examination, whether provisional or otherwise, for a course or training conducted by a recognized institution, unless the institution concerned has obtained recognition from the Regional Committee concerned, under Section 14 or permission for a course or training under Section 15”, Section 17 deals with contravention of provisions of the Act and consequences thereof, Section 18 deals with appeals, Rule 10 and Rule 11 of National Council for Teacher Education Rules, 1997.
  • Further, the Court relied upon;

State of U.P. v. Bhupendra Nath Tripathi, (2010) 13 SCC 203, the Supreme Court held that, according to sub-section (3) of Section 17 “once the recognition of a recognized institution is withdrawn under sub-section (1), such institution shall discontinue the course or training in teacher education and the concerned University or the examining body shall cancel affiliation of the institution with effect from the end of the academic session next following the date of communication of the said order.”

Adarsh Shiksha Mahavidyalaya v. Subhash Rahangdale, (2012) 2 SCC 425, The Supreme Court reiterated that the withdrawal of recognition becomes effective from the end of the academic session next following the date of communication of the order of withdrawal.

  • Furthermore, the Court said, when the statute requires doing a certain thing in a certain way, the thing must be done in that way or not at all. Other methods or mode of performance are impliedly and necessarily forbidden. The said proposition of law is based on a legal maxim expressio unius est exclusion alteris meaning thereby, “if the statute provides for a thing to be done in a particular manner, then it has to be done in that manner and in no other manner, and following other course is not permissible.” In Ajanta Industries v. Central Board of Direct Taxes, (1976) 1 SCC 1001, a Three-Judge Bench of the Supreme Court held that “when law requires reasons to be recorded in a particular order, affecting prejudicially the interest of any person, who can challenge the order in court, it ceases to be a mere administrative order and the wise or violation of the principles of natural justice on account of omission to communicate the reasons is not expiated.”
  • Moreover, the Court cited and relied on,

D. Gupta v. State of Haryana, (1973) 3 SCC 149, wherein the Court was dealing with a case in which disciplinary proceedings was initiated against the appellant under the Punjab Civil Services (Punishment and Appeal) Rules, 1952, upon the allegations of taking illegal gratification. One of the contentions taken by the appellant was that, no reasonable opportunity to reply to the show-cause notice was given on the basis of which he had been censured by the Government, inasmuch as, the notice was “too vague to enable him to give an effective reply.” The Court, acknowledging the said contention observed, “It is essential for a show-cause notice to indicate the precise scope of the notice and also to indicate the points on which the officer concerned is expected to give a reply. The show-cause notice in the instant case did not give the appellant any real opportunity to defend himself against the complaint that his previous explanation of 18.12.1956 had been unsatisfactory. The appellant did not, therefore, get any chance at all to show that he did not deserve a censure upon his conduct.”

Tarlochan Dev Sharma v. State of Punjab, (2001) 6 SCC 260, the Supreme Court noticed that, one of the requirements of the principles of natural justice, is that the reasons for the proposed removal have to be communicated to the person proceeded against. The purpose of such communication is to enable him to furnish an explanation of his conduct or his act or omission which is likely to be construed as an abuse of powers.

CCE v. Brindavan Beverages (P) Ltd., (2007) 5 SCC 388, Supreme Court held, “The show-cause notice is the foundation on which the department has to build up its case. If the allegations in the show cause notice are not specific and are on the contrary vague, lack details and/or unintelligible that is sufficient to hold that the notice was not given proper opportunity to meet the allegations indicated in the show cause notice.”

Vaishnav Institute of Technology and Management, “once the recognized institution starts functioning, the interest of teachers, employees and the students intervene.”

Decision

While allowing the present writ petition the Court said, “Section 17 of the NCTE Act envisages a reasonable opportunity to the institution sought to be de-recognized of making representation against the proposed order. Such an opportunity cannot be reduced to an empty formality.The Court further directed that, The petitioner’ institution shall submit their reply to the deficiency pointed out by the Southern Regional Committee, with supporting documents, within one week from the date of receipt of a copy of this judgment, which shall be considered by the Southern Regional Committee, after affording the petitioners institution a reasonable opportunity to represent its case, and pass appropriate orders, strictly in accordance with law.”[Christ Nagar Educational Charitable Society v. National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE), 2020 SCC OnLine Ker 4470, decided on 13-10-2020]


Sakshi Shukla, Editorial Assistant has put this story together

Case BriefsCOVID 19High Courts

Calcutta High Court: A Division Bench of Sanjib Banerjee and Moushumi Bhattacharya, JJ., while addressing the issues raised in the present petition observed that,

“From bringing to life the act-of-God clause that was mostly regarded as a redundant appendage in contracts to redefining the rules of human engagement, the pandemic has almost been all-pervasive.”

The present lis is born in its wake: upon a unique situation arising where students have been kept away from academic institutions for months together, prompting their parents or guardians to question why regular fees ought to be paid in such a scenario.

PRIVATE UNAIDED SCHOOLS | Concession in Fees

The point of public interest canvassed in the petitions is that private unaided schools should allow the substantial concession in fees as the physical conduct of classes has not been possible for more than 6 months and normal functioning may not resume in a full-fledged manner for several months more.

Profiteering by Schools

The parents or guardians complain of profiteering by the schools by unjustly enriching themselves even as several of the schools have terminated the services of several of the usual employees or have not paid the teachers in full and not incurred the normal expenses needed to physically operate such schools.

School’s Contention 

Almost all the schools represented contended that they have not removed any regular employee from the payrolls, and some even claim that the contractual staff have also been retained and paid during the lockdown.

Institutions controlled by the Church

The institutions controlled by the Church of North India and another which claims to be a linguistic minority educational institution, have objected to the Court seeking to interfere into their affairs.

They suggest that not only do they enjoy a special status accorded by Article 30(1) of the Constitution but they are also protected under Article 19 of the suprema lex.

No drastic measure

By and large, the schools indicate that they have not taken the ultimate drastic measure of excluding students from the limited online classes now conducted, though no fees may have been tendered on behalf of several students for the period beginning April, 2020.

The general refrain is that schools do not look at making any profit and, to the extent, their financial positions may allow, they are ready to accord concessions to parents or guardians of students in financial distress, but a general reduction of fees across the board should not be permitted.

Analysis and Decision

“…courts must exercise extreme self-restraint and not use the extensive amplitude as a springboard for judicial anarchy.”

In a breakdown scenario as a result of any natural calamity or an act of God or when the subordinate judiciary is not available or a litigant has no access to any other court in an extreme case, the High Court must not forget the width of the authority available to it and its constitutional obligation to discharge its duties governed by the overarching established principles designed by what may be loosely said to be the rule of law.

Two other broadheads of objection have been taken by some of the schools as noticed above: under Article 30(1) of the Constitution and under Article 19 thereof read with the right of privacy as espoused.

Court while analysing the set of contentions with regard t minority institutions stated that,

“…even minority educational institutions need to adhere to certain fundamental norms, the most basic of them being that they cannot be run for the purpose of making profit”.

Bench added that the basic requirement is that the fees charged must have some correlation with the facilities provided.

If the facilities provided over a long stretch of time, as for the best part of a year and probably more, cost less because physical classes have not been held, a substantial part of the money saved has to be returned without, for the moment, going to the question as to whether it should be returned pro rata or on a need-based basis.

Assessment of fees

Hence, Court stated that an assessment of the fees demanded or obtained during the lockdown period and in the absence of physical classes in the schools, may not amount to the breach of any right conferred by Article 30(1) of the Constitution in respect of a school run by a religious or a linguistic minority.

The same rule as above should apply to all private unaided schools since they are governed by private contracts between private individuals.

Bench in view of the unprecedented situation and as a one time measure issued the following directions:

  • No increase in fees during FY 2020-2021.
  • From the month beginning April, 2020 till the month following the one in which the schools reopen in the physical mode will offer a minimum of 20% reduction of fees across the board. Non-essential charges for use of facilities not availed of will not be permissible.
  • Session fees traditionally charged periodically will be permissible, but again, subject to a maximum of 80 per cent of the quantum charged for the corresponding period in the financial year 2019-20.
  • The minimum figure of 20 per cent reduction in the monthly tuition fees will be on the basis of the tuition fees charged for the corresponding month in the previous financial year.
  • For F.Y. 2020-21, a maximum of 5% excess of revenue over expenditure will be permissible. The balance excess should be passed on by way of general concession or special concession in cases of extreme distress.
  • No amount towards the arrears on account of revision of pay to teachers or other employees can be passed on in the fees for the financial year 2020-21. The amount on account of arrears may be recovered in 2021-22 and 2022-23, if normal physical functioning resumes by March 31, 2021.
  • There will be no increase in salaries of teachers or of other employees during the financial year 2020-21. In case any school has given effect to a higher pay scale, the difference must not be realised out of the school fees.
  • Parents and guardians of students are requested not to avail of the reduction in schools fees, if their financial situation does not merit the reduction.
  • In addition to the across-the-board reduction, every school will entertain applications from parents or guardians for further reduction or waiver or exemption or delayed or installment payments, as the case may be. Said applications must be supported with financial statements.
  • Such applications have to be filed before the respective schools by November 15, 2020, and every application should be dealt with on an individual basis and a decision communicated to the applicant by December 31, 2020.
  • When an application for further reduction or waiver or exemption or delayed payment of fees has been disposed of by the relevant school but the parents or guardians are aggrieved by the decision, an application may be filed, upon deposit of Rs 1000, to a committee for further adjudication of the request and to assess the decision communicated by the relevant school. Such application has to be filed within 10 days of the rejection.
  • The committee referred to in the immediate preceding clause will be headed by Mr Tilok Bose, Senior Advocate as its chairperson and will be assisted by the Headmistress or Principal of Heritage School and Ms Priyanka Agarwal, Advocate for the parents in WPA 5890 of 2020.
  • The deposit obtained by the committee will be retained by the committee and Rs 800 therefrom disbursed to the auditor or firm of chartered accountants for the first time the accounts of a particular school need to be assessed by the auditor or firm of chartered accountants. For every repeat exercise, meaning studying the accounts of the same school from the second time onwards, Rs 500 per case will be paid to the auditors. The balance amount in the hands of the committee will be used for the purpose of secretarial and managerial services the committee may be required to obtain.
  • By November 30, 2020, the committee should indicate a dedicated e-mail account whereat the appeals against the decisions of the schools may be filed.
  • By November 30, 2020, the committee should indicate a dedicated e-mail account whereat the appeals against the decisions of the schools may be filed.
  • Every application made before the committee must clearly indicate the name and other particulars of the student involved and furnish the e-mail ID of the school and its Principal or the like for the committee to communicate with the school.
  • The committee must endeavour to dispose of every application within 45 days of the receipt thereof and the decision of the committee will be binding, subject to the relevant schools having a right to apply to this court in the present proceedings for the reconsideration thereof.
  • The quantum of fees to be charged for every month will be indicated by the individual schools on any website and the notice-boards of the schools and informed to Advocate for the petitioner in WPA 5890 of 2020.
  • By November 30, 2020, the fees payable in terms of this order for the period up to November 30, 2020, should be tendered on behalf of all students.
  • With effect from December 8, 2020 all schools will be entitled to disallow students whose fees have not been paid in full in terms of this order and those who have not applied for reduction or waiver or the like. However, schools should ensure that this extreme step is taken only after exercising due care and caution.
  • No student will be entitled to apply for a transfer certificate without the full quantum of fees in terms of this order being first discharged.
  • Fees payable by students to boards for examinations or otherwise shall have to be paid in addition to the monthly fees and other charges in terms of this order and no waiver or reduction of the fees or charges payable to the boards may be sought or granted.
  • There will be no refund of the fees already paid.
  • The expenses incurred for developing the infrastructure of the schools should not be passed on to the students during the current financial year, though it will be open to recover the same from the students from financial year 2021-22 onwards, if the physical functioning resumes by March 31, 2021.
  • The cap of five per cent of the revenue over expenditure for the year 2020-21 will be subject to the exception that it may exceed the five per cent only if the general reduction afforded to the parents is not availed of by any of the parents and no student in financial distress has been denied additional concession despite being worthy.
  • No unusual expense should be incurred during financial year 2020-21 and no development or infrastructure expense should be incurred unless absolutely unavoidable.
  • Above directions for any form of concession will not apply to any of the 145 schools where the average monthly fee (calculated on an annual basis over the year from April, 2020 to March, 2021) is less than Rs 800. However, such schools may voluntarily take such measures as deemed fit.
  • The other private unaided schools in the State should also abide by the directions mutatis mutandis, particularly since the matter has been heard extensively and as public interest litigation.

Court made it clear that the present order may not be used as a precedent for the regulation of fees in the schools in future.

The instant petitions will appear next on 07-12-2020 to monitor the progress in the implementation of directions issued.

Moushumi Bhattacharya, J. supported the reasons laid down by Sanjib Banerjee, J., leading to the conclusions.

Bhattacharya, J.,  proposed to supplement three issues: Articles 226, 30(1) and 14 of the Constitution of India together with the right to privacy in the foreground of the arguments made.

The endeavour of the Court is that students must not be caught in the crossfire between their parents and the school authorities.

Under Article 226, the power of the High Courts is

“……..to issue to any person or authority, including in appropriate cases, any Government, within those territories directions, orders or writs, including writs in the nature of…….”

The order in which the words have been positioned indicate that the writ courts not only have the power to issue the five writs but also to issue orders and directions having the force and effect of the five writs, separately or together, for enforcing the rights guaranteed under Part III of the Constitution. The wide berth contemplated was recognised in Dwarka Nath v. Income Tax Officer, AIR 1966 SC 81 as an enabler for tailoring the reliefs to fit the shape and peculiarities of the case and stretching the parameters of the power “to reach injustice wherever it is found”.

But does that mean that a court’s authority to issue writs under Article 226 is unfettered?

The court draws its own boundaries within which it decides the lis on a number of factors; including but not limited to whether there is an efficacious remedy or alternative forum which the petitioner should have first exhausted, whether the right can be reasonably restricted, where there is stark absence of a public law element in the discharge of duties of the concerned entity or even where the conduct of the petitioner does not call for the court’s intervention on the facts of the case.

The privacy argument of the CNI and the linguistic minority schools is another aspect which should be briefly dwelt on. K.S. Puttaswamy (Privacy-9 J.) v. Union of India (2017) 10 SCC 1 has been placed to elevate the right to privacy as a ‘travelling right’.

It is a right aimed at preserving the spatial and intellectual integrity of an individual in matters of choice and acts as a springboard for the connected freedoms which are guaranteed under the Constitution.

As noticed in several decisions impacting minority institutions, Article 30(1) was contemplated by the framers to serve as a shield and not as a sword. After all, can these schools bypass the statutory requirement of filing their periodic audited financial numbers to the concerned authorities?

Schools cannot be simplistically categorised according to the financial profile of the guardians and whether as such they need a fee-reduction for their wards.

“…a benefit, like a right, cannot be denied to a greater number merely on the ground that it may be misused by a few.”

Adding to the above, Bench also stated that the teachers who need the schools to remain financially solvent for their job-security may also be parents mired in debts/loss of service who would benefit from a fee-reduction. The mechanism proposed had to as inclusive as possible representing the concerns of guardians across the board, irrespective of privilege and financial bracket.

“We have designed a 2-tier mechanism not only to provide guardians with a window for further concessions but also to make the process as free of coercion/ compulsion and as much transparent as is practicably possible under the circumstances.”

[Biplab Kumar Chowdhury v. Union of India, WPA 5530 of 2020, decided on 13-08-2020]


Counsels

For the State: Kishore Datta, A-G, Senior Advocate & Sayan Sinha, Advocate

For Union of India: Y.J. Dastoor, ASG, Senior Advocate & Siddhartha Lahiri, Advocate.

For the petitioner
In WPA 5890 of 2020: Advocates, Sai Deepak, Rishav Kumar Singh, Anurag Mitra, Priyanka Agarwal and Avinash Kumar Sharma.

For the petitioner (in person) In WPA 5378 of 2020: Advocate Partyush Patwari

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Himachal Pradesh High Court: A Division Bench of Tarlok Singh Chauhan and Jyotsna Rewal Dua JJ. disposed of the petition giving relief to the students and awarding litigation expenses as compensation to be paid by the defaulting respondent college.

The instant petition was filed by students seeking the return of their original documents submitted to Himalayan School of Nursing, being run by the Himalayan Group of Professional Institutions, under the aegis of Maa Saraswati Education Trust, registered in the State of Haryana at the time of admission in course GNM i.e. General Nursing & Midwifery Diploma. Even after having approached the authorities on multiple occasions, the college failed to provide the original documents and later confessed to not having them in their possession and the same to be seized by CBI.

Counsel for the respondent submitted that the original certificates are not in their possession and has been seized by CBI. In view of this, Court asked CBI to file a reply. The reply by CBI stated that during search proceedings, files were found and seized for further investigation qua Himalayan Group of Professional Institutions, Kala Amb, Tehsil Nahan, District Sirmaur, H.P., before the Court of Special Magistrate (CBI)-cum-CJM, Shimla.

The Court relied on various judgments emphasizing the evolution of education and its importance, namely Tamil Nadu v. K. Shyam Sunder, (2011) 8 SCC 737 and observed when educator gets down to hand twisting and blackmailing by retaining the original certificates and other documents of its students so as to ensure that their wings are clipped and they do not migrate to any other college or for that matter leave the college.

The Court directed the CBI to retain the photocopies for investigation and return the original documents to the students to prevent any further mental trauma.

The Court further relied on a judgment titled Maharishi Dayanand University v. M.L.R. Saraswati College Education, (2000) 7 SCC 746 and held that petitioner students to be compensated for the legal expenses and hence Rs 50,000 each to be paid by the institution to the students.

In view of the above, the petition stands disposed off.[Twinkle Pundir v. State of H.P., 2020 SCC OnLine HP 1845, decided on 06-10-2020]


Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has put this story together

COVID 19Hot Off The PressNews

Government of India is following a phase-wise unlocking of activities. In days to come, this would also involve partial resumption of activities in schools for students of classes 9th to 12th on a voluntary basis, for taking guidance from their teachers. This would be allowed from 21-09-2020.

Generic Preventive Measures

The generic preventive measures include simple public health measures that are to be followed to reduce the risk of COVID-19. These measures need to be observed by all (teachers, employees and students) in these places at all times.

These include:

  1. Physical distancing of at least 6 feet to be followed as far as feasible.
  2. Use of face covers/masks to be made mandatory.
  3. Frequent hand washing with soap (for at least 40-60 seconds) even when hands are not visibly dirty.

    Use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers (for at least 20 seconds) can be done wherever feasible.

  4. Respiratory etiquettes to be strictly followed. This involves strict practice of covering one’s mouth and nose while coughing/sneezing with a tissue/handkerchief/flexed elbow and disposing off used

    tissues properly.

  5. Self-monitoring of health by all and reporting any illness at the earliest.
  6. Spitting shall be strictly prohibited.
  7. Installation & use of Aarogya Setu App may be advised wherever feasible.

All schools (with classes IX to XII) shall specifically ensure the following arrangements

  1. Online/distance learning shall continue to be permitted and shall be encouraged.
  2. Students of class 9th to 12th shall be permitted to visit their school on voluntary basis for taking guidance from their teachers. This will be subject to written consent of their parents/guardians. Such visits and teacher – student interaction must be organized in a staggered manner.

After opening of the schools

At the entry point

  1. Entrance to have mandatory hand hygiene (sanitizer dispenser) and thermal screening provisions. Multiple gates/separate gates, if feasible, should be used for entry and exit.
  2. Only asymptomatic persons (teachers, employees and students) to be allowed in the premises. If a teacher/employee/student is found to be symptomatic, he/she should be referred to nearest health center.
  3. Posters/standees on preventive measures about COVID-19 to be displayed prominently.
  4. Proper crowd management in the parking lots, in corridors and in elevators – duly following physical distancing norms shall be organized.
  5. Entry of visitors should be strictly regulated/restricted.

SOP to be followed in case a student/teacher/employee develops symptoms (fever, cough, difficulty in breathing)

  1. Place the ill person in a room or area where they are isolated from others.
  2. Inform parents/guardians as the case may be.
  3. Patient will remain isolated while wearing a mask/face cover till such time they are examined by a doctor.
  4. Immediately inform the nearest medical facility (hospital/clinic) or call the state or district helpline.
  5. A risk assessment shall be undertaken by the designated public health authority (district RRT/treating physician) and accordingly further action be initiated regarding management of case, their contacts and need for disinfection.
  6. Disinfection of the premises to be taken up if the person is found positive.

Read the detailed notification here: FinalSOPonpartialresumptionofactivitiesinschools8092020


Ministry of Health and Family Welfare

[Notification dt. 08-09-2020]

Case BriefsCOVID 19High Courts

Bombay High Court: A Division Bench of A.A. Syed and S.P. Tavade, JJ., addressed the grievance of a petition with regard to the conduct of examinations in its College Campus which has been requisitioned as a COVID Centre.

Petitioner made a pint that in the college campus belonging to the petitioner-trust, it is running various educational courses which was requisitioned by an order dated 27-03-2020 by invoking the provisions of the Disaster Management Act and is being used as a Corona Care Center.

Submission has been made that the above-said premises is now required, as it is an examination center for the 2nd-year P.B.B.Sc Nursing Course.

Adding to the above, it was stated that the said premises is being used as COVID Care Center, the patients who are admitted to the said COVID Care Center are asymptomatic and they can be shifted elsewhere so that the said premises can be used for conducting the examination.

Petitioner hence sought the directions to release the said premises from the requisition and further directions to shift the COVID patients admitted in the said premises to alternate premises.

Decision 

High Court stated that it will not pass any mandatory orders considering the paucity of time and risk involved in the health and safety of the students to write the examination in said premises which is presently being used as COVID care center.

Further, it was added that there appears to be a substantial risk involved in transferring the COVID positive patients.

In case the said patients are transferred, then the premises will have to be deeply sanitized and made virus-free.

Therefore, respondents-authorities shall ensure that for 80 students who are to write the examination of the 4th year, either at St. Jyotiprasad School, Daund (which is stated to have 40 rooms) or St. Sebastian High School Daund (which is stated to have 35 rooms) shall be made available from 8th September, 2020 to 16th September, 2020.

For students travelling from the outstation, necessary arrangements shall be made.

Court also directed the SDO, Purandar to oversee the aforesaid arrangements to ensure that the examination is conducted smoothly. 

Matter to be listed on 23-09-2020. [Daun Medical Foundations’ Sushrusha v. State of Maharashtra, WP (ST) No. 92378 of 2020, decided on 04-09-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: Prathiba M. Singh, J., constituted a committee to finalize the process in regard to the issuance of digital degree certificates for the students of Delhi University while directing the same Bench also observed that,

Obtaining a degree, which should have been a cause of celebration, has been turned into a complete nightmare for all these doctors who ought to have been busy rendering medical services during the pandemic.

Petitions filed were with the intent to reflect upon the sorry state of affairs at the Delhi University. Petitioners are all doctors and graduated their MBBS course in the year 2018 and 2019 and yet have been struggling to get their original degree certificates.

After failed approaches to the University, petitioners have reached out to the Court.

In an earlier petition, Court had observed that DU ought to make alternative arrangements during the COVID-19 pandemic for issuance of digital certificates, digital mark sheets and digital transcripts online along with digital signatures and security features.

Reason cited by DU for delay in issuance of the degree certificate was non-availability of paper and the fact that DU’s contract with the printer had expired.

Further, it was observed that Court was informed that steps were being taken for printing the degree certificates in an expedited manner. Despite this being the position, the tender for printing degree certificates was not finalized and it was only yesterday i.e., 3rd August, 2020 that the tender was opened. 

In an affidavit it has been informed to the Court that a Committee has been formed for looking after the security of sensitive data of academic awards, manpower requirement, University revenue, etc. 

“…looking at the urgency for the degree of the petitioners specially the medical doctors/professionals who have already completed their degree from University of Delhi and also other urgent specific cases, the University will initiate measures so that their degree can be delivered to them on priority basis and for that purpose the related data shall be given to the Digilocker to generate their digital degree.

Further, the University will develop a system to address such type of cases in a time bound manner so that degree certificate can be provided digitally.”

Insofar as Digilocker is concerned, the Court is informed that DU has registered on Digilocker only yesterday i.e., 3-08-2020.

Bench observed that despite the sufficient time being made available to the Delhi University, it is clear that adequate steps have not yet been taken to set up the process for issuance of digital degree certificates.

There is a completely callous attitude being reflected towards the plight of students.

Further, an affidavit filed by DU is lacking in several respects – in the name of the portal, the link to the portal, the form to be filled for obtaining the digital degree-certificate and is not providing a sample of the degree certificate to be issued.

Obtaining a degree, which should have been a cause of celebration, has been turned into a complete nightmare for all these doctors who ought to have been busy rendering medical services during the pandemic.

Hence in view of the above, Court constituted a Committee, which shall finalise the following:

a) The online link on the DU portal where the students can put in applications for issuance of their digital degree certificates. Alternatively, an e-mail address shall be provided where the Petitioners and similarly placed candidates can write an e-mail to obtain their degree certificates;

b) The timeline after receipt of the said email for verification and issuance of the degree certificate with the digital signature;

c) Template for the degree certificate to be issued by email;

d) Official to be responsible for affixing the digital signature and issuance of the same;

e) A sample degree certificate in favour of one of the Petitioners, duly signed with the digital signature, shall also be generated;

f) Timelines for transmission of past data to Digilocker from DU;

g) Timelines for transmission of data periodically to Digilocker so that students can easily access their certificates, transcripts, mark sheets, awards, etc.

Status report to be submitted on 07-08-2020 and matter for hearing is to be listed on the same date. [Dr Akshita Khosla v. University of Delhi, 2020 SCC OnLine Del 926, decided on 04-08-2020]


Also Read:

Del HC | “No reason why DU should not adopt technically advanced methods”; Court suggests DU to issue degree certificates online through email

Hot Off The PressNews

Karnataka High Court directs the State officials to conduct Karnataka Common Entrance Test (CET) exam as per the schedule. No student should be prevented for appearing the exam.

Bench denied to grant interim relief in terms of postponing or cancelling the exam, scheduled to be held on July 30, 31 and August 1, 2020.

Court in it’s yesterday’s Order had directed the Karnataka State government to reconsider the advisability of conducting the Karnataka Common Entrance Test (KCET) 2020 on July 30th, 31st and 1st August in light of the rising number of Covid-19 cases.

High Court has stated  that no Covid positive student should be denied opportunity of writing the examination just because documents are not provided. Authorities shall make sure that conditions in the SOP issued by the Union Ministry of Health and the SOP of state from time to time are scrupulously followed by all.

Authorities to provide transportation to needy students and all logistical support, especially to students and parents from containment zones.

Yesterday’s Decision

The Court passed the order after considering the pleas in three different petitions, all of which sought to have directions issued by the Court ordering the state government to postpone the CET. It was contended that considering the onslaught of the ongoing pandemic, conducting a physical examination was arbitrary and would jeopardize the health of the students, and conducting the same under these circumstances would amount to a violation of their fundamental rights under Article 14, since students in containment zones would not have equal opportunities of attending the exam resulting in a violation of their right to equality, and Article 21.

The Bench observed that more than 5000 new cases had been reported daily in the state in the past fortnight, with 1500 cases emerging daily in Bangalore alone, which has over 5000 containment zones. Since the government SOP prohibits the inhabitants of containment areas from travelling outside and considering that public transport would not be readily available either, the Bench duly noted that there would be a probability of students missing out on the exams.

*The above report has been prepared based on news reports.


Read the detailed Case brief, here:

KCET 2020 | Kar HC | No candidate shall be prevented from attending examination scheduled to be held from 30th July, 2020 [Detailed Brief]

 

Cabinet DecisionsLegislation Updates

Union Cabinet approved the National Education Policy 2020, making way for large scale, transformational reforms in both school and higher education sectors.

This is the first education policy of the 21st century and replaces the thirty-four year old National Policy on Education (NPE), 1986.  Built on the foundational pillars of Access, Equity, Quality, Affordability and Accountability, this policy is  aligned to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and aims to transform India into a vibrant knowledge society and global knowledge superpower by making both school and college education more holistic, flexible, multidisciplinary, suited to 21st century needs and aimed at bringing out the unique capabilities of each student.

Important Highlights

School Education

Ensuring Universal Access at all levels of school education

NEP 2020 emphasizes on ensuring universal access to school education at all levels- pre school to secondaryInfrastructure support, innovative education centres to bring back dropouts into the mainstream, tracking of students and their learning levels, facilitating multiple pathways to learning involving both formal and non-formal education modes, association of counselors or well-trained social workers with schools, open learning for classes3,5 and 8 through NIOS and State Open Schools, secondary education programs equivalent to Grades 10 and 12, vocational courses, adult literacy and life-enrichment programs are some of the proposed ways for achieving this. About 2 crore out of school children will be brought back into main stream under NEP 2020.

Early Childhood Care & Education with  new Curricular and Pedagogical Structure

With emphasis on Early Childhood Care and Education, the 10+2 structure of school curricula is to be replaced by a 5+3+3+4 curricular structure corresponding to ages 3-8, 8-11, 11-14, and 14-18 years respectively.  This will bring the hitherto uncovered age group of 3-6 years under school curriculum, which has been recognized globally as the crucial stage for development of mental faculties of a child. The new system will have 12 years of schooling with three years of Anganwadi/ pre schooling.

NCERT will develop a National Curricular and Pedagogical Framework for Early Childhood Care and Education (NCPFECCE) for children up to the age of 8 . ECCE will be delivered through a significantly expanded and strengthened system of institutions including Anganwadis and pre-schools that will have teachers and Anganwadi workers trained in the ECCE pedagogy and curriculum. The planning and implementation of ECCE will be carried out jointly by the Ministries of HRD, Women and Child Development (WCD), Health and Family Welfare (HFW), and Tribal Affairs.

Attaining Foundational Literacy and Numeracy

Recognizing Foundational Literacy and Numeracy as an urgent and necessary prerequisite to learning, NEP 2020 calls for setting up of a  National Mission on Foundational Literacy and Numeracy by MHRD. States will prepare an implementation plan for attaining universal foundational literacy and numeracy in all primary schools for all learners by grade 3 by 2025.National Book Promotion Policy is to be formulated.

Reforms in school curricula and pedagogy

The school curricula and pedagogy will aim for holistic development of learners by equipping them with the key 21st century skills, reduction in curricular content to enhance essential learning and critical thinking and greater focus on experiential learning. Students will have increased flexibility and choice of subjects. There will be no rigid separations between arts and sciences, between curricular and extra-curricular activities, between vocational and academic streams.

Vocational education will start in schools from the 6th grade, and will include internships.

A new and comprehensive National Curricular Framework for School Education, NCFSE 2020-21, will be developed by the NCERT.

Multilingualism and the power of language

The policy has emphasized mother tongue/local language/regional language as the medium of instruction at least till Grade 5, but preferably till Grade 8 and beyond. Sanskrit to be offered at all levels of school and higher education as an option for students, including in the three-language formula. Other classical languages and literatures of India also to be available as options. No language will be imposed on any student. Students to participate in a fun project/activity on ‘The Languages of India’, sometime in Grades 6-8, such as, under the ‘Ek Bharat Shrestha Bharat’ initiative. Several foreign languages will also be offered at the secondary level. Indian Sign Language (ISL) will be standardized across the country, and National and State curriculum materials developed, for use by students with hearing impairment.

Assessment Reforms

NEP 2020 envisages a shift from summative assessment to regular and formative assessment, which is more competency-based, promotes learning and development, and tests higher-order skills, such as analysis, critical thinking, and conceptual clarity. All students will take school examinations in Grades 3, 5, and 8 which will be conducted by the appropriate authority. Board exams for Grades 10 and 12 will be continued, but redesigned with holistic development as the aim.  A new National Assessment Centre, PARAKH (Performance Assessment, Review, and Analysis of Knowledge for Holistic Development),  will be set up as a standard-setting body .

Equitable and Inclusive Education

NEP 2020 aims to ensure that no child loses any opportunity to learn and excel because of the circumstances of birth or background. Special emphasis will be given on Socially and Economically Disadvantaged Groups(SEDGs) which include gender, socio-cultural, and geographical identities and disabilities.  This includes setting up of   Gender Inclusion Fund and also Special Education Zones for disadvantaged regions and groups. Children with disabilities will be enabled to fully participate in the regular schooling process from the foundational stage to higher education, with support of educators with cross disability training, resource centres, accommodations, assistive devices, appropriate technology-based tools and other support mechanisms tailored to suit their needs. Every state/district will be encouraged to establish “Bal Bhavans” as a special daytime boarding school, to participate in art-related, career-related, and play-related activities. Free school infrastructure can be used as Samajik Chetna Kendras

Robust Teacher Recruitment and Career Path

Teachers will be recruited through robust, transparent processes. Promotions will be merit-based, with a mechanism for multi-source periodic performance appraisals and available progression paths to become educational administrators or teacher educators. A common National Professional Standards for Teachers (NPST) will be developed by the National Council for Teacher Education by 2022, in consultation with NCERT, SCERTs, teachers and expert organizations from across levels and regions.

School Governance

Schools can be organized into complexes or clusters which will be the basic unit of governance and ensure availability of all resources including infrastructure, academic libraries and a strong professional teacher community.

Standard-setting and Accreditation for School Education

NEP 2020 envisages clear, separate systems for policy making, regulation, operations and academic matters. States/UTs will set up independent State School Standards Authority (SSSA). Transparent public self-disclosure of all the basic regulatory information, as laid down by the SSSA, will be used extensively for public oversight and accountability. The SCERT will develop a School Quality Assessment and Accreditation Framework (SQAAF) through consultations with all stakeholders.

Higher Education

Increase GER to 50 % by 2035

NEP 2020 aims to increase the Gross Enrolment Ratio in higher education including vocational education from 26.3% (2018) to 50% by 2035. 3.5 Crore new seats will be added to Higher education institutions.

Holistic Multidisciplinary Education

The policy envisages broad based, multi-disciplinary, holistic Under Graduate  education with flexible curriculacreative combinations of subjectsintegration of vocational education and  multiple entry and exit points with appropriate certification. UG education can be of 3 or 4 years with multiple exit options and appropriate certification within this period. For example,  Certificate after 1 year, Advanced Diploma after 2 years, Bachelor’s Degree after 3 years and Bachelor’s with Research after 4 years.

An Academic Bank of Credit is to be established for digitally storing academic credits earned from different  HEIs so that these can be transferred and counted towards final degree earned.

Multidisciplinary Education and Research Universities (MERUs), at par with IITs, IIMs, to  be set up as models  of best multidisciplinary education of global standards in the country.

The National Research Foundation will be created as an apex body for fostering a strong research culture and building research capacity across higher education.

Regulation

Higher Education Commission of India(HECI) will be set up as a single overarching umbrella body the for entire higher education, excluding medical and legal education. HECI to have  four independent verticals  – National Higher Education Regulatory Council (NHERC) for regulation, General Education Council (GEC ) for standard setting, Higher Education Grants Council (HEGC) for funding,  and National Accreditation Council( NAC) for accreditation. HECI will  function through faceless intervention through technology, & will have powers to penalise HEIs not conforming to norms and standards. Public and private higher education institutions will be governed by the same set of norms for regulation, accreditation and academic standards.

Rationalised Institutional Architecture

Higher education institutions will be transformed into large, well resourced, vibrant multidisciplinary institutions  providing  high quality teaching, research, and community engagement. The definition of university will allow a spectrum of institutions that range from Research-intensive Universities to Teaching-intensive Universities and Autonomous degree-granting Colleges. 

Affiliation of colleges is to be phased out in 15 years and a stage-wise mechanism is to be established for granting graded autonomy to colleges. Over a period of time, it is envisaged that every college would develop into either an Autonomous degree-granting College, or a constituent college of a university.

Motivated, Energized, and Capable Faculty

NEP makes recommendations for motivating, energizing, and building capacity of  faculty thorugh  clearly defined, independent, transparent recruitment , freedom to design curricula/pedagogy, incentivising excellence, movement into institutional leadership. Faculty not delivering on basic norms will be held accountable

Teacher Education

A new and comprehensive National Curriculum Framework for Teacher Education, NCFTE 2021, will be formulated by the NCTE in consultation with NCERT. By 2030, the minimum degree qualification for teaching will be a 4-year integrated B.Ed. degree .Stringent action will be taken against substandard stand-alone Teacher Education Institutions (TEIs).

Mentoring Mission

A National Mission for Mentoring will be established, with a large pool of outstanding senior/retired faculty – including those with the ability to teach in Indian languages – who would be willing to provide short and long-term mentoring/professional support to university/college teachers.

Financial support for students

Efforts will be made to incentivize the merit of students belonging to SC, ST, OBC, and other SEDGs. The National Scholarship Portal will be expanded to support, foster, and track the progress of students receiving scholarships. Private HEIs will be encouraged to offer larger numbers of free ships and scholarships to their students.

Open and Distance Learning

This will be expanded to play a significant role in increasing GER. Measures such as online courses and digital repositories, funding for research, improved student services, credit-based recognition of MOOCs, etc., will be taken to ensure it is at par with the highest quality in-class programmes.

Online Education and Digital Education

A comprehensive set of recommendations for promoting online education consequent to the recent rise in epidemics and pandemics in order to ensure preparedness with alternative modes of quality education whenever and wherever traditional and in-person modes of education are not possible, has been covered. A dedicated unit for the purpose of orchestrating the building of digital infrastructure, digital content and capacity building will be created in the MHRD to look after the e-education needs of both school and higher education.

Technology in education

 An autonomous body, the National Educational Technology Forum (NETF), will be created to provide a platform for the free exchange of ideas on the use of technology to enhance learning, assessment, planning, administration. Appropriate integration of technology into all levels of education will be done to improve classroom processes, support teacher professional development, enhance educational access for disadvantaged groups and streamline educational planning, administration and management

Promotion of Indian languages

To ensure the preservation, growth, and vibrancy of all Indian languages, NEP recommends setting an Indian Institute of Translation and Interpretation (IITI), National Institute (or Institutes) for Pali, Persian and Prakrit, strengthening of Sanskrit and all language departments in HEIs,  and use mother tongue/local language as a medium of instruction in more HEI  programmes .

Internationalization of education will be facilitated through both institutional collaborations, and student and faculty mobility and allowing entry of top world ranked Universities to open campuses in our country.

Professional Education

All professional education will be an integral part of the higher education system. Stand-alone technical universities, health science universities, legal and agricultural universities etc will aim to become multi-disciplinary institutions.

Adult Education

Policy  aims to achieve 100% youth and adult literacy.

Financing Education

The Centre and the States will work together to increase the public investment in Education sector to reach 6% of GDP at the earliest.

Unprecedented Consultations

NEP 2020 has been formulated after an unprecedented process of consultation that involved nearly over 2 lakh suggestions from 2.5 lakhs Gram Panchayats, 6600 Blocks, 6000 ULBs, 676 Districts. The MHRD initiated an unprecedented collaborative, inclusive, and highly participatory consultation process from January 2015. In May 2016, ‘Committee for Evolution of the New Education Policy’ under the Chairmanship of Late Shri T.S.R. Subramanian, Former Cabinet Secretary, submitted its report.   Based on this, the Ministry prepared ‘Some Inputs for the Draft National Education Policy, 2016’.  In June 2017 a ‘Committee for the Draft National Education Policy’  was constituted under the Chairmanship of eminent scientist Padma Vibhushan, Dr. K. Kasturirangan, which submitted the Draft National Education Policy, 2019 to the Hon’ble Human Resource Development Minister on 31st May, 2019.  The Draft National Education Policy 2019  was uploaded on MHRD’s website and at ‘MyGov Innovate’ portal eliciting views/suggestions/comments of stakeholders, including public.

Kindly click here to see PDF


Cabinet

[Press Release dt. 29-07-2020]

[Source: PIB]

Case BriefsCOVID 19High Courts

Delhi High Court: Pratibha M. Singh, J., addressed a matter wherein CBSE informed the Bench that the students who appeared for CBSE 12th Board Examinations and whose results will be declared late, the deadline for applying re-evaluation will accordingly be extended.

Present petition was filed by a student who appeared for his 12th CBSE Board Examinations in 2019-20 who secured 95.25%.

In order to improve his scores, petitioner had applied for improvement exams and decided to drop a year and had further applied to take the improvement exams in 4 subjects. However, his Business Studies exams which was to be held on 24th March, 2020 could not be held due to the nation wide lockdown due to COVID-19 Pandemic.

Main grievance of the petitioner was that despite the 3 exams being taken by him, result of the said three improvement exams was not declared by CBSE.

Counsel for the CBSE, Amit Bansal submitted the results of all the regular students appearing for the CBSE Examinations have already been declared only the ones who had appeared for improvement exams are left in regard for their results to be declared.

On seeking instructions from CBSE, it was informed that the stated results will be declared before 27-07-2020.

Concerns placed by the Counsel, Manchanda were that, the petitioner had to update his registration with the Delhi University where he intended to pursue his undergraduate studies and the deadline for re-evaluation as fixed by CBSE ends today i.e. 20-07-2020.

Counsel for the CBSE submitted in response that the students whose results will be declared late, the deadline for applying re-evaluation will accordingly be extended.

Matter to be listed on 27-07-2020. [Sanyam Gupta v. CBSE, 2020 SCC OnLine Del 827 , decided on 21-07-2020]

Case BriefsCOVID 19High Courts

Madras High Court: R. Mahadevan, J., while addressing the issue of Government stalling collection of fees, held that,

Federation of Association of Private Schools in Tamil Nadu shall formulate a scheme with respect to collection of fees, not based on the fee structure framed by the Committee, but in instalments for a while, without prejudice to the rights of the parents and children.

State of Tamil Nadu will then take a decision on the above formulated scheme and report to the Court.

Petitioners interest should be protected — why?

K.M. Vijayan, Senior Counsel for the petitioners has contended that even under the Disaster Management Act, conducting classes through electronic media is declared as one of the choices to impart education; several schemes were framed both by Centre and State Governments for COVID-19 crisis, but no scheme with regard to the welfare and protection of the educational institutions was framed.

Further he added that any order that would restrain the private school/college managements from collecting fees would cause embarrassment to them.

“…education is being imparted online and students are availing benefit thereof, the institutions are entitled to charge tuition fees, to meet out their infrastructural expenses.”

Plight of the parents

Taking into consideration the plight of the parents, Advocate General, Vijay Narayan submitted that Government passed impugned order invoking the provisions of Disaster Management Act, restraining the private schools to forcibly collect fees from parents which does not prevents parents from paying the fees voluntarily.

Hema Muralikrishnan, Counsel appearing for private schools contended that Government wants the institution to pay the salaries of the teachers without collection of fees from students.

Bench

Court on perusal of the above contentions, passed the following order:

“petitioners herein are directed to formulate an equation / Scheme with respect to collection of fees, not based on the fee structure framed by the Committee, but in instalments for a while, without prejudice to the rights of the parents and children, by way of detailed representations and submit the same to the Government, with an advance copy marked to the learned Advocate General, through e-mail on or before 02.07.2020.

On such representations being submitted, the respondent Government shall consider the same, take a decision and file a report before this Court, on or before 06.07.2020.”

Matter to be listed on 08-07-2020.[Federation of Association of Private Schools in Tamil Nadu v. All India Private Educational Institutions Association, WPs No. 8490 to 8492 of2020, decided on 30-06-2020]

Case BriefsCOVID 19High Courts

Uttaranchal High Court: A Division Bench of Ramesh Ranganathan, CJ and R.C. Khulbe, J., directed slew of directions to be followed in pursuance to the State Government Order passed on 2nd May, 2020 with regard to the collection of tuition fees by private unaided schools.

State Government vide its Order dated 2nd May, 2020 had permitted to private unaided schools to conduct online classes. In terms of the said order, these schools were also prohibited from collecting any fees other than tuition fees.

The said clause of collecting tuition fees was not extended to the private unaided schools who were unable to provide online classes.

Complaint

It has been alleged that parents were being coerced to pay tuition fees. Some of the schools are conducting classes for even Upper Kindergarten students only to collect fees from gullible parents.

Schools had started to send WhatsApp messages and e-mails with regard to payment of tuition fees, though the Government Order required payment of fees to be voluntary and since several of the State’s inhabitants lacked internet facility due to which children could not attend the online classes, still they were being asked to pay tuition fees.

Object of the Government Order dated 2nd May, 2020 is to ease the burden on parents, who do not even have the means to earn their livelihood in this period of crisis, in being required to pay the huge fees which these private institutions charge.

While the difficulties of these institutions, in having to incur expenditure without collecting fees from its students, is understandable, times of crisis like these would require the haves to extend a helping hand to the have-nots.

Court issued following directions for effective implementation of the above-stated Government Order:

  • District Education Officer and Block Development Officer to be appointed in each district to whom complaints can be addressed by parents who are being coerced to pay the tuition fees by private schools.
  • Wide publicity shall be given in the media informing the public at large, in the State, that they can address their grievance in this regard to the Nodal Officers.
  • Nodal Officer to take prompt actions against the complaints.
  • Children, who do not have access to online course, cannot be asked to pay tuition fees.
  • Since payment of tuition fee by students is voluntary, none of the private schools shall send e-mails or WhatsApp messages or any form of communication to parents calling upon them to pay tuition fees.

Court further asked the Secretary, School Education to furnish report on the following:

  • call for information from all the District Education Officers regarding the number of private schools, which offer online courses, and the number of students who have access to such online courses. Information shall be obtained from each of these private schools as to whether tuition fees is being collected even from those students who have no access to the online course offered by the schools. This information shall not only be collected from students of Class 1 to Class 10, but also with regards children who are undergoing their Upper Kindergarten.
  • Information regarding online classes being conducted by private schools for Upper Kindergarten students. Shall consider the wisdom in conducting such online programmes for these children in Upper Kindergarten, examine whether this is just a ruse to collect tuition fee from them, and issue appropriate directions, to all such private schools, in this regard as he considers appropriate.

Matter to be posted on 26-05-2020. [Japinder Singh v. Union of India, 2020 SCC OnLine Utt 217, decided on 12-05-2020]

COVID 19Hot Off The PressNews

Supreme Court: A bench of Ashok Bhushan and SK Kaul, JJ has dismissed a petition seeking directions to the Union of India for compliance with the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) order dated March 29, which directed landlords not to demand rent from students and migrant labourers for a period of one month amid the coronavirus-induced lockdown. The Court also warned the petitioner in-person advocate Pawan Prakash Pathak of heavy cost.

Justice Kaul said,

“The lawyers are filing a number of cases with respect to COVID-19, I don’t understand this,”

The petition had also sought a quick response be taken on the evictions being reported by tenants amid COVID-19 or till further orders of the government.

The MHA had earlier warned of strict action against those who force tenants to vacate their rented accommodation due to a failure to pay rent amid the ongoing crisis.

(Source: ANI)

COVID 19Hot Off The PressNews

In continuation of Ministry of Home Affairs‘s Orders No.40-3/2020-DM~l(A) dated 15th April, 2020, 16th April, 2020‘ 19‘” April, 2020‘ 21st April 2020‘ 24th April. 2020 and 29’h April, 2020, and m exercise of the powers, conferred under Section 70(2)(|) of the Disaster Management Act, the undersigned, in his capacity as Chairperson National Executive Committee hereby orders to include the following in the consolidated revised guidelines for strict implementation by Ministries Departments of Government of India, Stale/Union Territory Governments and Union Territory Authorities:

Sub-clause (v) under Clause 17 on Movement of persons by trains:

v. Movement of migrant workers, pilgrims‘ tourists, students and other persons‘ stranded at different places‘ is also allowed by special trains to be operated by Ministry of Railways(MoR), MoR will designate nodal officer(s) for coordinating with State] UTs for their movement. MoR will issue detailed guidelines for sale of tickets; and for social distancing and other safety measures to be observed at train stations. train platforms and within the trains.

 The rest of the conditions stipulated for Movement of persons vide Sub»clause (iv) [a, b, c. e, f] will continue to apply to such movement.
[Order link to be attached soon]

Ministry of Home Affairs

[Order dt. 01-05-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madras High Court: M. Duraiswamy, J., while addressing a petition that was filed in pursuance of the impugned order of termination of a Polytechnic Principal based on an enquiry under which certain charges were laid down which included the charge of  “indulging in Homo-Sexual activities” with the polytechnic students.

In the present petition, it has been stated that the petitioner was working as the Principal of Dharmapuri District Co-operative Sugar Mills Polytechnic and was suspended by 1st respondent which was further confirmed by the Appellate Authority.

The petitioner was at first suspended by 1st respondent based on a pending enquiry against him under Section 42 of the Special by-laws. The charges laid down against him were all proved except for charge number 3 and 7. Following is the gist of charges against the petitioner:

  1. Misappropriation of funds by preparing bogus vouchers
  2. Misappropriation of funds by refunding lesser amount to the former students
  3. Misappropriation of scholarship amount by paying lesser scholarship amount
  4. Indulged in Homo-sexual activities with the polytechnic students.
  5. Derogatory remarks writing in filthy language against the teaching staff in the notice board and allowed the students to read.
  6. Arranged to refund the fees without any authority and without following the formalities and incurred loss to the Polytechnic.
  7. Failed to inform the students about their selection to the group/trade who attended the interview
  8. Admitted the students for admission in the management quota those who were not the heir of the cane growers/employees.
  9. Deceived the Govt. and management allowing a student for admission in the administrative quota

High Court, considering the above, stated that

Person with such conduct and character who indulged in homosexual activities with the polytechnic students cannot be allowed to continue in employment, that too, as a Principal of a Polytechnic Institute.

Petitioner had also made derogatory remarks, writing in filthy language against the teaching staff in the notice board and had allowed the students to read, which would establish that the petitioner is unfit to continue as the Principal of the Polytechnic Institute.

Bench relied on the case of Avinash Nagra v. Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti, (1997) 2 SCC 534, wherein it was held that,

“…it is necessary to consider the need for education and the place of the teacher.”

“The citizen, as a duty, should renounce practices derogatory to the dignity of women; value and preserve the rich heritage of our composite culture; protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wild life, and to have compass in for living creatures.”

“…the teacher was placed on the pedestal below the parents. The State has taken care of service conditions of the teacher and he owed dual fundamental duties to himself and to the society.”

“quality, competence and character of the teacher are, most significant for the efficiency of the education system as pillar of built democratic institutions and to sustain them in their later years of life”

In the above-cited case, the Court stated the following with respect to “Enquiry”:

“Enquiry is not a panacea but a nail on the coffin. It is self-inspection and correction that is supreme.”

 Thus, in the present petition, the Court in view of the above stated that the order of termination of the Principal is proper and no error or irregularity with the same is to be found. [D. Ganesan v. Dharmapuri District Coop. Sugar Mills Polytechnic, 2019 SCC OnLine Mad 9942, decided on 11-11-2019]

Hot Off The PressNews

The National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, India has taken suo motu cognizance of media reports that more than 17 students, 15 to 19 years, were killed in the massive fire which broke out in the four-storeyed building housing their coaching centre at Surat in Gujarat on the 24th May, 2019. Many are still in critical condition, undergoing medical treatment in hospitals.

Considering the incident as a grave violation of the human rights of the young students, the Commission has issued a notice to the Chief Secretary, Government of Gujarat calling for a detailed report in the matter including status of the criminal cases registered against the building owner and others found guilty along with action taken against the public servants concerned. He has been asked to include in his the legal status of the building, its construction, fire fighting measures, fire safety clearance and relief granted to the grief-stricken families. The Commission also expects that the best and free of cost treatment is provided by the State to the injured persons. Response from the State government is expected within 4 weeks.

Issuing the notice, the Commission has also observed that it has been constantly insisting the authorities to be more vigilant to avoid such tragic incidents. Going by the media reports, it appears that there was no safe passage for the victims, which could have been used as a fire exit in case of emergency. The mere announcement of compensation to the aggrieved families cannot be a solution to such kind of hazards. Several such incidents have occurred across the country where precious human lives have been lost due to negligence by the authorities and lack of Fire Department’s clearance.

According to the media reports, the fire reportedly started likely due to a short circuit at the staircase near the lower floor and engulfed the entire premises. As there was no way out for the people present on the top floor to come out of the building, they started jumping off the building. Some of them have sustained serious injuries. It is mentioned in the news reports that the horrifying incident was recorded by many passersby, which indicates that nearly a dozen teenagers were trying to escape the thick smoke rising from the building, forcing them to jump off to save their lives.

The fire department officials reached the spot and deployed 19 fire trucks and two hydraulic platforms to douse the fire and evacuate the people trapped in the building. An enquiry into the matter has reportedly been ordered by the state government. Reportedly, Rs 4 lakh to the next of kin of the deceased have been announced by the State government and as a precautionary measure all the Tuition Centres/Coaching centre, etc have been ordered to be closed in the area. The fire hazard checks are also being conducted in various places.


[Dated: 25-05-2019]

National Human Rights Commission

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Patna High Court: The Bench of Mohit Kumar Shah, J. dismissed a petition filed by a school having no affiliation, which sought approval for allowing students to appear for the intermediate examination.

Petitioner-college had approval from the State government only for induction of students in the Arts faculty for two academic sessions. The Science faculty of college had no approval. However, petitioner had already inducted students in Science stream, and thus it sought to seek their registration for appearing in 2019 Intermediate examinations. 

Petitioner’s submission was that since in the past even without any affiliation/ recognition, its students had been permitted to appear in Intermediate examination, this year also the same facility be extended.

The Court noted that the petitioner-college had no affiliation/recognition/permission from either the State Government or Bihar School Examination Board for the purposes of admitting students in class XI and XII. Hence, it was apparent that petitioner had illegally inducted students in Arts as well as Science stream and in the process had duped innocent students. It was opined that petitioner’s submission for allowing the students to appear in examination this year as the same had been allowed previously was fallacious, inasmuch as illegal precedents cannot become a rule and illegality cannot be perpetuated.

It was noted that around 384 candidates of petitioner-college from Science stream had appeared in Intermediate examination 2019 though the same was illegal. However, the Court restrained itself from cancelling the candidature of such candidates keeping in mind future career of the innocent students and also the fact that they had no complicity in the matter.

In view of the above, the petition was dismissed with a direction to the State government and Bihar School Examination Board to give wide publicity to the fact that the petitioner-college had no recognition/ affiliation from either of them, so that innocent children are not duped by it. Further, it was directed that appropriate action be taken against the petitioner and its functionaries, after holding an enquiry.[Wazirganj College v. State Of Bihar, 2019 SCC OnLine Pat 261, Order dated 01-03-2019]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: A bench comprising of S.A. Bobde and L. Nageswara Rao, JJ. while allowing an appeal filed by T.N. Dr MGR Medical University, set aside the order of Madras High Court whereby it had directed the respondent to proceed with the counselling and admit students in the first year of BHMS course for the academic year 2017-18.

In 2013, Central Council for Homeopathy had recommended for grant of permission to the respondent for starting a Homeopathic college. Ministry of AYUSH, however, refused to grant the permission due to deficiency in requisite facilities. However, the Central Council decided to grant the said permission subject to approval by the Central Government. Subsequently, three students died in the respondent college and it was closed down. The respondent filed an application for grant of provisional affiliation which was rejected by the appellant University. The respondent filed a writ petition thereagainst and the High Court, vide the order impugned, directed the appellant as aforementioned. Aggrieved thereby, the appellant preferred the instant appeal.

The Supreme Court, for adjudication of the matter, perused the entire scheme of grant of affiliation and admission pertaining to the instant case. The Court found that the respondent did not have the requisite approval from the Central Government as provided in Section 12-A of the Homeopathy Central Council Act, 1973. According to the Court, the respondent was not entitled to the relief granted by the High Court. It was observed that exercise of jurisdiction in favour of provisional admissions during the pendency of a writ petition exposes the students to the risk of losing precious years in case of dismissal of the writ petition. The Courts should desist from passing interim orders directing provisional admissions of students. In view of the aforesaid, the appeal was allowed and the order impugned was set aside. [T.N. Dr MGR Medical University v. SVS Educational and Social Trust, Civil Appeal No. 10920 of 2018, decided on 12-11-2018]