Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, February 14
Just about three years after a Vivek High School student’s father challenged his son’s suspension from the institution, the Punjab and Haryana High Court today dismissed two petitions in the matter after holding that the pleas lacked merit.
Justice Sudhir Mittal asserted: “Right to education, though a facet of right to life, must be construed in the correct perspective. Discipline is an integral part of education and this is how the concept of education must be understood.”
The case has its genesis in a complaint by father-Sanjeev Garg alleging that his son studying in Class VI was subjected to corporal punishment and had to suffer mental harassment and torture.
After hearing advocate Ramdeep Pratap Singh for the school and Namit Kumar for the UT Administration, Justice Mittal made it clear that the child was never expelled from the school and an opportunity was granted to the petitioner to conform to the norms of behaviour and discipline of the school so that his son could continue with his education uninterrupted.
“Had the petitioner adopted such an approach, in all probability, the school would have permitted his son to continue with his education..,” Justice Mittal added.
Referring to the provisions of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, Justice Mittal asserted that it prohibited a student’s expulsion till he completed elementary education.
A communication from the school indicated that the petitioner’s son was found in possession of cigarettes. Keeping in view the past record of the petitioner’s son and his parents’ conduct, a decision was taken not to permit the child to attend classes for the January-March 2017 session. But his education was not curtailed as he was permitted to take the final exams without payment of fee for the quarter.
“A period of over three months was given to the petitioner to make alternative arrangements for his child. Under the circumstances and keeping in view the conflicting claims of the parties, I would not hold it to be an order of expulsion,” Justice Mittal asserted.
In his detailed order, Justice Mittal added that the Chandigarh Commission for Protection of Child, in its report, returned a finding that corporal punishment could not be established. A similar finding was returned in another report by a committee constituted by the Director, School (Education). Doubt was not expressed in the writ petition on fairness of the inquiries. “Thus, I have no hesitation in accepting their finding and holding that allegations of corporal punishment are false”.
As far as the allegations of mental harassment were concerned, Justice Mittal added that it was evident from the school’s written statement that complaints had been made against the petitioner’s son since he was in Class I. The school authorities made efforts to counsel the child and the parents on several occasions and the child showed improvement after counselling sessions.
Justice Mittal added: “But, his parents have not cooperated with the school authorities. Resultantly, the incidents of indiscipline and misbehaviour continued over the years. The specific instances given in the school’s written statement have not been denied by the petitioner by way of rejoinder and, thus, the averments of the school in this regard have to be accepted.... The allegations of mental harassment have not been established”.
Ramdeep Partap Singh had, during the course of hearing, submitted that the petitioner had left no stone unturned to malign the image of the school and its management. “No efforts have been made by him to instil a sense of discipline in his child, which is causing great harm to his personality,” he had added.
Says institutes nursery for future generations
The Bench ruled that educational institutions were nurseries for future generations. They nurtured the children so that they grew up to be responsible citizens. The role of parents was, however, far more important. A child was spending more time in his home’s comfort than at school. As such, the parents were more responsible for shaping their wards. “Focus must be maintained on the interest of a child and if there appears to be a conflict between the individual requirements of a child and the general requirements of maintaining discipline and good behaviour in an educational institution, a cooperative approach needs to be adopted. Confrontation only harms the interest of the child as does an attitude of protectionism”.
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