Srinagar: The High Court on Tuesday asked the School Education and R&B departments to file their response by Thursday on whether the schools and colleges reopened after the devastating floods were structurally sound and health wise safe.
A division bench of Chief Justice M M Kumar and Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey also issued notice to private schools including DPS and Presentation Convent, seeking their explanation on the plea alleging charging of tuition and bus fee from students for September and October.
Besides, the bench also issued notice to government on an application filed by a lawyer seeking directions to the government to conduct all examinations in November as against March as announced by the government recently.
The court was hearing a Public Interest Litigation, initiated by it earlier this month on an open appeal made by some parents regarding the safety of pupils in the schools post-floods in the Valley.
As soon as the hearing in the PIL started, senior Additional Advocate General S A Naik sought time to file status report on behalf of the School Education and R&B departments.
“Time is very crucial in these cases,” the bench responded and observed that ensuring safety of children was prime responsibility of the government.
“You cannot let children come (to schools) and catch infection and land in hospital. As far as High Court is concerned, we did allow entry till the time we were totally satisfied that building is safe and heath wise fit,” the bench said.
“Kindly restore hygiene. If the building is unsafe, it cannot be reopened. Their (students) education will also be polluted by inhaling polluted air,” the bench observed and asked the departments to file response by Thursday.
Meanwhile, Advocate G A Lone, amicus curie in the case, raised queries about charging of tuition and other fee by private schools and ‘ambiguity’ in conduct of examinations for the current session.
He said that all schools including DPS, Mallinson, Tyndale Biscoe, Presentation Convent and others have asked parents to deposit fee for September and October. The charges claimed, he said, are bus fare as well as monthly tuition fee.
“Furnish address of these schools so that notices are served upon them to appear (on Thursday) and explain it,” the bench said.
Regarding examination, Sr AAG Naik informed the court that government has already decided to hold the examination in March next year. “Let (copy of the Cabinet decision) be placed on record,” the bench said.
It also took on record a status report filed by the Deputy Secretary to Government, Health and Medical Education, highlighting that the unhygienic condition of schools in Shopian, Pulwama, Anantnag, Kulgam, Srinagar, Bandipora, and Budgam.
The bench also directed senior Additional Advocate General J A Kawoosa, representing the Health Department, to file latest status report by the next date of hearing.