Monday, March 11, 2013

SC gives six months to government for toilets, water in schools

SC gives six months to government for toilets, water in schools

Dhananjay Mahapatra, TNN Oct 4, 2012, 05.06AM IST

NEW DELHI: Six months after upholding the constitutional validity of Right to Education Act, the Supreme Court on Wednesday directed the Centre and the state governments to ensure drinking water, separate toilets for boys and girls and teachers in every school.
A bench of Justices K S Radhakrishnan and Dipak Misra directed the governments to provide within six months "toilet facilities for boys and girls, drinking water facilities, sufficient classrooms, appointment of teaching and non-teaching staff" in all schools.

"We make it clear that these directions are applicable to all the schools, whether state opened or privately owned, aided or unaided, minority or non-minority," said Justice Radhakrishnan, who authored the judgment for the bench.
The order came on a petition filed by NGO 'Environment and0 Consumer Protection Foundation' which through advocate Ravindra Bana has been litigating for the last eight years for a direction to the governments to provide basic infrastructure in government-run schools.
The court had been issuing interim orders over the years and a bench headed by Justice Dalveer Bhandari, now a judge of the International Court of Justice, had been monitoring the performance of states in providing drinking water and toilets in state-run schools.
Though the bench of Justices Radhakrishnan and Misra disposed of the PIL giving a six-month deadline to the government to comply with the direction, it gave permission to the petitioner to move court for initiation of appropriate proceedings after six months against defaulting states.
The bench recalled that in its April 12 judgment, the apex court had upheld the RTE Act and ordered full implementation of the provisions enacted by Parliament to make Right to Education meaningful for children in the age group of 6-14 years.
In its April judgment, the apex court had quoted 2007-08 statistics to note that of the 12,50,755 schools imparting elementary education in India, 80.2% were government run, 5.8% private aided and 13.1% were private unaided. Of these, 87.2% of schools were located in rural areas.
In its interim order of October 18, 2011 in the NGO's PIL, the SC had said, "It is imperative that all schools must provide toilet facilities. Empirical researches have indicated that wherever toilet facilities are not provided in schools, parents do not send their children (particularly girls) to schools. It clearly violates the right to free and compulsory education of children guaranteed under Article 21A of the Constitution."
The bench said since the apex court had in April this year ordered full implementation of RTE Act, provisions of which mandated governments to ensure that schools took all necessary steps to uphold children's right to education, there was no need for keeping the PIL pending.
The court noticed that statutory authorities under RTE Act as well as the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights had been empowered to examine implementation of the law relating to right to education by schools.
It said, "We are confident that the statutory authorities will examine and review the safeguards for the child's rights and recommend measures for their effective implementation."

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