The Kerala High Court has directed the Central and State Governments, the educational authorities including Central Board of Secondary Education, to ensure that the orders they have passed to reduce the weight of school bags are implemented in all the schools, in its letter and spirit.
The bench of Chief Justice S. Manikumar and Justice Shaji P. Chaly also ordered the authorities carry out periodic inspections in the school, with or without notice so as to ensure that the orders are implemented by the respective authorities.
The bench issued this direction in a Public Interest Litigation filed by Dr. Johny Cyriac in this regard. It was submitted that heavier school bags are having an adverse effect on the health of the growing children. The doctor pointed out that due to the regular carrying of the heavy school bags weighing 10 to 30 kgs., various diseases are developed in the children, including permanent and partial disabilities physically, and also severe mental trauma is caused to the children.
The Court noted that the Central Board of Secondary Education, the Union Government and the State Government have issued necessary directions to ensure that the children are carrying school bags with minimum weight so as to ensure their welfare, growth, health and to maintain a system, where the children are not physically and mentally disturbed. But the directions issued are not ensured and implemented in its letter and spirit, the bench observed:
The Court, in this regard, said:
It is a need of the day and hour to ensure that the children are brought up in good physical and mental health condition as they are the future of the nation. It is the duty of the Government to ensure that the fundamental rights, in its letter and spirit, are enjoyed by the children. One of the facets of the fundamental rights, so far as the children are concerned, is to ensure that they are having education in the best possible method.. Moreover, Article 21 of the Constitution of India, dealing with the protection of life and personal liberty, also conceive that the children are enjoying their school life without being disturbed in any manner especially physically and mentally. Unnecessary burden imposed upon the children will lead to deprivation of their life and personal liberty and therefore, the Union Government, the State Government and all the Educational Agencies have the responsibility and duty to ensure that the children are carrying school bags with minimum wight. Moreover, as per part IV of the Constitution, the directive principles of State Policy, the State is duty bound to secure social order for the promotion of the welfare of the people by securing : and protecting as effectively as it may a social order in which justice, social, economic and political shall inform all the institutions of the national life.
The Court also noted that the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009, has been enacted with the objective of regulating and streamlining the education of children upto the age of fourteen years. It said:
The intention behind the introduction of the said Act also is to ensure that the children carry on their education in the schools with utmost freedom, independence and happiness. To ensure the said objectives, it is highly necessary that the children go to their schools with happiness and return with satisfaction and physical and mental health, and they are not suffered with trauma of any nature for their continued health, education and welfare.
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