The Maharashtra State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (MSCPCR) has now directed the state government to “frame rules and guidelines in order to monitor and regularise playschools” in Maharashtra.
The recent order has been given in a case where a child, who was 2-year-old at the time the incident took place in August 2012, broke her collar-bone due to alleged negligence of a playschool in Airoli, Navi Mumbai.
On the day of the incident, when the child’s father and complainant went to the school to pick her up, he found her crying. On enquiry, the teacher said “it was due to fear, which she realised when she was playing”. Believing the teacher’s version, the complainant brought his daughter home, but the problem persisted.
“Seeing the deteriorating condition of her daughter, the complainant went to the hospital and consulted the doctor, who advised hospitalisation. The child was admitted at Breach Candy hospital. The X-ray report showed crack in her collar bone. To heel the crack, (doctors said) it would require at least six months, provided she took complete bed rest and medication,” says the detailed order.
It further says the complainant went to school and demanded that the CCTV footage, installed in the classroom, be shown. “The school authorities reluctantly allowed checking of CCTV footage, which revealed that she (girl) had dropped down towards the ground while playing and after the incident, no one took any step to provide any type of treatment,” it says.
While an FIR was filed against the owners and teachers, the complainant said the police failed to take action against the accused.
The complainant subsequently approached MSCPCR. “Under the provisions of the law, owner of the school is vicariously responsible in this matter,” says MSCPCR’s order.
Several issues were raised during the hearings. The complainant had allegedly warned the school authorities on at least three occasions about small children playing on the slide and had repeatedly requested them to keep a watch, to which the school assured each time that were very vigilant. This however, according to the father, did not happen as revealed by the footage.
The father told the Commission that while school authorities failed to inform him immediately after his child fell, the teacher lied to him, saying the child had not fallen, which led to delay in treatment by one-and-a-half days. Other critical issues raised included “failing to provide first aid to the child, owner failing to apprehend the teacher for telling lies and keeping mum on the incident, and no refund of the medical expenses or fees”.
Even as the school raised the issue of jurisdiction of MSCPCR in this matter, the commission argued that it “has the power to conduct enquiry under the provision of Child Rights Act” as the Commission’s power is recommendatory.
“The respondent (school) has mentioned licence is not required to run a playschool, so permission was not received from any authority… Running playschools without permission of competent authority is not proper,” said the commission.
The order also directs the owner of the playschool “to pay medical expenses as incurred on the medication of the child”, subject to furnishing of receipt by the applicant.
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