Taking suo moto cognisance of a media report on a government school being asked to shut down to make way for a parking lot here, the Jammu and Kashmir High Court has restrained the state government from closing any government school, directing it to seek permission from it over any such closure. More than 200 students are currently studying in the school – Government Girls High School, City Chowk, Jammu- and the decision to make way for a parking lot had invited the wrath of parents.
“Considering the Right to Education of children guaranteed under Article 21A of the Constitution of India and under Section 4 of Jammu & Kashmir School Education Act, 2002, we are restraining respondents from closing any government school, which are functioning as on date and if any school is to be closed for any valid reason(s), permission from this court be obtained”, a division bench of the court said yesterday.
The judgement was delivered by a bench of the high court comprising Chief Justice N Paul Vasanthakumar and Justice Tashi Rabstan. The court said, “A shocking news item has come to the notice of this court through print media today, that an existing school, Government Girls High School, City Chowk, Jammu is ordered to be closed by government, even though more than 200 students are studying, that too in middle of the academic year and the area is earmarked for using it as parking area”.
“The students and their parents are in protest. The schools, which are functioning and catering to the education needs of the local residents shall not be closed. Thus, we are constrained to pass an order prohibiting the respondents from closing the Govt.Girls High School, City Chowk, Jammu and further order to continue the said school in the same premises till further orders.
The court also observed that the State Government is contemplating to rationalise 3000 schools in the State on the pretext of less number of students and more number of teachers working in schools.
“Though, it is necessary to deploy excess teachers to needy schools, taking steps to close the schools on the ground of less number of admissions of students must be carefully considered.This order shall not preclude the education department to post surplus teachers in needy schools,” the court said.
The court also said that imparting education should not be for profit.
“Imparting education either by the State or by private person(s) cannot be for profiteering.Right to Education to the children upto age of 14 years is guaranteed as a fundamental right under Article 21-A of the Constitution of India.The said right was recognized by Parliament based on various pronouncements made by the Hon’ble Supreme Court and in particular Unni Krishanan J.P. and others v. State of Andra Pradesh & others [(1993) 1 SCC 645]”, the court said.
The Jammu and Kashmir School Education Act, 2002, Section 4 also mandates the Government to provide free and compulsory education for children up to the Class VIII within a period of 10 years from the date of commencement of the Act.
Thus, establishment of schools and administration of the schools shall the primary concern of the State, which also includes running of schools, which are already established and functioning, it said.
“It is a well settled principle that investment in education is an investment for future generation and educational institutions are treated as knowledge-centres and all welfare states must strengthen the education system for developing society,” it said.