Right To Education Means, Right To Health & Hygiene, Drinking Water, Building And Transport Safety Etc: Madras HC [Read Order]

Right To Education Means, Right To Health & Hygiene, Drinking Water, Building And Transport Safety Etc: Madras HC [Read Order]

"In this context, we also observe that right to education means, right to health & hygiene, drinking water, fire safety, building safety and transport precautions in the school, as well. It also includes adequate facilities for providing recreation, physical education, conduct of various activities and programmes for the cultural and moral development of children."

A Madras High Court bench comprising of Justices S. Manikumar and Subramonium Prasad, while hearing a matter placed before it observed recently that right to education means, right to health & hygiene, drinking water, fire safety, building safety and transport precautions in the school, as well".

The instant writ petition arose in the form of a PIL filed by a practicing advocate seeking the issuance of a writ of mandamus directing the provision of CCTV cameras with GPS in all school buses so as to facilitate the option of monitoring the movement of the school bus through an official website by the parents.

The petitioner supported his prayer by citing two news items published in Times of India and Mirror Now Digital relating to sexual harassment of minor students.

The petitioner before filing the writ petition had also sent a representation to the Director of School Education, Chennai, the first respondent in this case, but the same remained unanswered.

The Tamil Nadu Motor Vehicles (Regulation and Control of School Buses) Special Rules, 2012 contains nothing that mandates such installation.

However, the CBSE issued guidelines in 2017 relating to safety of school children in school bus in a circular, wherein, under clause 2(g) of Annexure I, GPS and CCTV should compulsorily be there in each school bus. It was further provided that the owner of the school bus has the duty to ensure that the CCTVs are kept in working conditions at all times.

"Global Positioning System (GPS) and CCTV arrangement should be made compulsorily in each school bus. It shall be ensured by the owner of the bus that the GPS and CCTV thus installed, is kept in working condition at all the time."

At the request of the court, Mr. G. Nagarajan, standing counsel for the CBSE submitted that the 2017 Guidelines of the CBSE is not being followed. He further pointed out that the CBSE affiliation bye laws had been amended and as per Clause 4.7.7 of the new guidelines the school should scrupulously observe prescription from the State Government / Municipal Authority / Transport Department regarding health & hygiene, drinking water, fire safety, building safety and transport precautions in the school.

Referring to a number of cases the Court held that a prerogative writ, like, a mandamus cannot be demanded ex debito justiatiae, but it can be issued by the court in its discretion. For such issuance it must be shown that, there is a non-discretionary legal duty upon the authority against whom, the relief is sought. For that the person seeking the issuance of the writ has to prove that he has a legal right to be enforced against the authority, for the failure of performance of a legal or statutory duty, by the authority against whom, the relief is sought for. In the instant case, the petitioner had not pointed out any rules and regulations for the issuance of the mandamus.

The court observed that there was no rule or obligation as such, either from the transport or the education department obligating the educational institution's buses to be provided with CCTVs and GPS. However, under the CBSE amended guidelines, the same had to be installed in all affiliated schools.

The Court further observed that considering the safety of the children and moreso, the affiliation bye laws of CBSE that seeks the compliance of the CBSE schools with the measure stated above, the State Government has to consider issuing necessary guidelines in the matter of providing CCTV and GPS in education institution buses.

Explaining the ambit of right to education the Court observed:

"In this context, we also observe that right to education means, right to health & hygiene, drinking water, fire safety, building safety and transport precautions in the school, as well. It also includes adequate facilities for providing recreation, physical education, conduct of various activities and programmes for the cultural and moral development of children."

Deeming the Secretary to the Government, School Education Department, Government of Tamil Nadu the necessary and proper party to answer the issue, the court, suo moto, impleaded him as a respondent party to the petition.

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