The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the Centre to decide in three months on demands for framing of safety guidelines for all schools, as sought by the father of a seven-year-old boy who was killed in a Gurgaon school, and some lawyers. The top court said the decision taken by the government should cover both public and private schools.
A bench of Justices Adarsh Kumar Goel and R F Nariman said the court was not an expert on framing of policy or guidelines for schools and it would be appropriate if the government looks into the cause raised in various writ petitions. “We direct Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) to look into the prayers in the PILs and consider taking a decision in three months. The decision taken shall be for both government as well as private schools,” the bench said.
Earlier, the apex court had sought compilation of norms formulated by the Centre and states for its consideration. It had asked all the states and union territories to file their responses on the PILs filed by father of the deceased child, some lawyers and organisations. Three states — Haryana, Karnataka and Himachal Pradesh — have filed their responses in the case.
The plea filed by two women lawyers, Abha R Sharma and Sangeeta Bharti, sought framing of “non-negotiable” child safety conditions and implementation of existing guidelines to protect school-going children from offences like sexual abuse and murder across the country.
The plea had also sought cancellation of licences and forfeiture of state grants of erring schools. Another PIL, filed by lawyer Sujeeta Srivastava, raised the issue of children “being exploited and subjected to child abuse repeatedly within the boundaries of the schools” and demanded that central and state governments notify a set of “non-negotiable” child safety conditions for schools.
Besides the Human Resources Ministry, the plea has made all state governments and union territories as parties and sought proper implementation of the existing guidelines of authorities including the Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights (DCPCR) on prevention of child abuse in schools.
Referring to the guidelines, it said every school is required to have a “child protection policy which should be understood, explained and signed by all employees or recruits”.
All new employees must go through a day-long orientation programme on issues related to child protection within a month of their joining, the plea suggested while referring to the guidelines.
Each school must have child abuse monitoring committee with two student as representatives and a thorough police verification was needed before employing a person in a school, it said.