Granting interim relief to 14-year-old Hritik Wabale, the ninth standard student of Pimpri’s Gyan Ganga International School who was expelled by the school authorities, the Bombay High Court on Tuesday directed that the student be reinstated in the school immediately for the academic year 2015-16.
The child was expelled after his parents opposed the “arbitrary” fee hike imposed by the school and filed a police case against the school management.
While the parents of the child have been directed to clear all fee arrears for their child, the bench of Justices Anoop V Mohta and V L Achiliya directed the school management authorities to explain their drastic action. “Is there a specific provision that allows you to take such action against any student? Which Act or statute were you following while expelling him because of a row with his parents? And did the management consider the issue of the child’s welfare and the principles of natural justice?” the HC said.
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Besides asking the school to reinstate the student, the bench also directed the state government to submit a report clarifying its jurisdiction over administrative matters of private unaided schools such as admissions and expulsion of students and fee hike. The HC also asked the state to explain whether it had any obligation to exercise supervision over such schools in case the school management took any decision that might go against the welfare of students.
Advocate Uday Warunjikar, who represented petitioner Vandana Wabale, Hritik’s mother, said the court also observed that the state government must have some kind of grievance redressal platform where such cases will be dealt with and parent would not need to approach the court.
While the petitioners have sought that their child be reinstated in Gyan Ganga International School, the school management had argued that the “fee hike was in the interest of the students”.
When the child’s parents lodged an FIR against them, the school conducted a meeting of the staff and senior authorities and decided to expel the student.
The Indian Express had reported in the case since April, when the parents staged a hunger strike outside the school and later approached the education officials in Pune protesting their son’s expulsion from school. Later, many parent organisations too supported Wabale and an FIR was lodged by the parents against the school for allegedly detaining the child in a room in the school. Denied relief despite protesting outside the chief minister’s bungalow in Mumbai, the parents had finally approached the HC.