Madras High Court has refused to quash a summons issued by the Tamil Nadu Commission for Protection of Child Rights on alleged child rights violations in the schools run by Isha Yoga Centre at Velliangiri, Coimbatore.
Justice S.M. Subramaniam observed that mere issuance of summon by the Commission under the provisions of the Act would not provide cause for the petitioner to institute the present writ petition.
It noted that such a writ petition would stand only if the summons was issued by an authority not competent nor possessing the jurisdiction to do. Else, the petitioner must show that the summons was issued with malafides and establish that there have been no violations, by filing their objections.
On the suo moto complaint registered by the Commission under Section 14 (1) of the Commission for Protection of Child Rights Act, 2005, the court stated:
"The Suo-Moto powers conferred on the Commission is to ensure that the educational institutions function under the recognized scheme of education pattern and in the event of any violation or infringement of the rights of children, then actions are imminent and therefore, mere issuance of summon by the Commission under the provisions of the Act would not provide cause for the petitioner to institute the present writ petition."
The court added that Isha Yoga Centre shouldn't have opted to approach the High Court at the enquiry stage itself for quashing the summons issued by the Commission. Rather, Isha Yoga Centre could have defended the allegations against them before the Commission itself and established their case.
The counsel for the petitioner argued that the Commission had predetermined the issues at the preliminary stage itself and it was reluctant to hear the submissions of Isha Foundation with an open mind.
The court accordingly ordered the Commission to provide the petitioner with the opportunity to be heard and conduct the enquiry in a free and fair manner:
"The respondent is directed to issue fresh summons to the petitioner, fixing date and time, enabling the writ petitioner to appear and submit their explanations / objections along with documents, if any, within a period of four weeks from the date of receipt of a copy of this order…"
Isha Yoga Centre should also submit its objections within one week of receiving the summons from the Commission pursuant to court order. Further, the Commission has been asked by the court to dispose off the proceedings within eight weeks of issuance of summons.
Accordingly, the writ petition was disposed off.
According to the petitioner, Isha Foundation has Saddhguru Jaggi Vasudev at its helm, and it runs schools in rural areas. It has also adopted several government schools under its School Adoption Programme. The counsel A.M Amrutha Ganesh further submitted that it imparts Vedic knowledge by following the Gurukula System of education.
The administrator had approached the Commission with relevant documents on the day specified in Summons but the petitioner was not heard owing to delays, submitted the counsel.
The respondent counsel for the state, Advocate C. Jaya Prakash, contended that the Commission is free to conduct an enquiry whenever it deems fit and the Foundation is required to submit their defence as per the law.
In the present case, Summons was issued by the Commission back in September 2016. The Commission had cited violations of Section 13(1)(j),(k) of the Act which deals with initiation of enquiry and suo moto notice for deprivation of child rights, non-implementation of laws for protection and development of children and non-compliance with policy decisions/guidelines etc.
Case Title: Administrator, Isha Yoga Centre v. Tamil Nadu Commission for Protection of Child Rights
Case No: W.P.No.35102 of 2016 & W.M.P.No.30255 of 2016