However, there remains a hard reality, natural instincts of students in adolescence, the judge said, advising the school authorities to rise to the occasion and re-consider the issue.
The Kerala High Court has upheld an action of a school suspending a boy and a girl student for their alleged public display of affection in the school and through social media.
Two students, a boy and girl who were studying in St Thomas Central School, were suspended on the recommendation of the disciplinary committee of the school. The allegation was that the boy hugged a girl student in front of teachers and other students in the school. Certain photographs of the boy and girl have appeared in Instagram, in which they were allegedly seen in compromising positions. According to the school authorities, these things affected the morale of the students and the school’s reputation.
While things being so, the Kerala State Commission for Protection of Child Rights intervened in the matter and directed the school to permit the boy to attend the class and continue his education. This order was assailed by the school before the high court.
Justice Shaji P Chaly, who heard the plea, perusing the photos floated in Instagram, observed: “I find that various photographs were posted in the Instagram in various compromising positions and if it had the effect of publicity, the issue definitely hampers the reputation of the school. There can be no doubt that such incidents can disturb parents and the students of the school and even the public at large.”
The court, however, restricted its adjudication of jurisdiction of the Child Rights Commission to pass such an order and observed that the principal of the school is the guardian of the school, is vested with powers to take necessary action to maintain the discipline and morality in the school, and it cannot be interfered or tinkered with by the commission.
The court also observed that there was absolutely no illegality or unfairness on the part of the school authorities having proceeded, so as to maintain and sustain the standard and reputation of the school.
The judge, however, advised the school authorities to take a balancing approach to the issue taking into account the fact that the boy is XII standard student and he is to face the Board examination during the month of March/April.
“However, there remains a hard reality, natural instincts of students in adolescence. By saying so, I do not intend to interfere with the disciplinary action initiated by the school. But, however, the Principal and teachers of the school thus functioning, enjoying the characteristics and principles of loco parentis, definitely have a larger and broader outlook to these aspects, and nothing standing in the way of the school authorities rising to the occasion and re-considering the issue,” the judge said, clarifying that these observations shall not be mistaken as any compulsion on the school authorities.
“I have no doubt or hesitation to say that there was absolutely any illegality or unfairness on the part of the school authorities having proceeded, so as to maintain and sustain the standard and reputation of the school. However, the school authorities may also bear in mind, a balancing approach to the issue. The authorities may also be at liberty to impose reasonable fine on the parents of the 2 nd respondent, so as to make it as a deterrent to the students, and precaution to avoid similar incidents. Moreover the observations are made, also realising the fact that, neither the girl student nor her parents has made any complaint in this regard to anyone”, said the Judge