Describing the state of affairs as regards the people of tribal community within the State of Bihar as "shocking", the Patna High Court last week expressed hope that the authorities "wake up from slumber and come out with a structured plan for ensuring implementation of the Constitutional mandate including that under Article 338-A".
The said Article provides for a National Commission for Scheduled Tribes.
The bench of Chief Justice Sanjay Karol and Justice S. Kumar was hearing a PIL by the Bihar Adiwasi Adhikar Forum highlighting the apathy and policy paralysis on the part of the Government in fulfilling the Constitutional goal and the fundamental duty of providing education to the children, more specifically girls hailing from the tribal area falling within the hilly areas of district- West Champaran.
"If the information furnished by the learned Amicus Curiae as also the petitioner is correct, then undoubtedly it is reflective of a shocking state of affairs in dealing with the issues pertaining to the people of tribal community within the State of Bihar", observed the division bench.
The bench proceeded to remind itself of the Constitutional mandate provided under Part-IV (Article 46) of the Constitution of India which reads as under: "46. Promotion of educational and economic interests of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and other weaker sections.- The State shall promote with special care the educational and economic interests of the weaker sections of the people, and, in particular, of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes, and shall protect them from social injustice and all forms of exploitation."
"At this stage, we need not say anything further on the issues highlighted by the learned Amicus Curiae, for they are self speaking and refrain ourselves from making any observations, only hoping for the authorities to wake up from slumber and come out with a structured plan for ensuring implementation of the Constitutional mandate including that under Article 338-A", noted the bench last Thursday.
The bench required the Additional Solicitor General to ascertain information from the ST Commission, and called for affidavits to be filed by the Chief Secretary, Bihar and the Secretary dealing with Ministry of Tribal Affairs.
The petition points out that the tribal population in the said district is approximately 2.5 lacs and there is only one girls' school namely Yugal Shah Tribal Girls High School 10+2, Harnatand (district- West Champaran) in relation to which, now a decision stands taken of not only reducing the number of students but also closing down the hostel facility for the girl students. It is pointed out that the student ratio, has been allowed to fall down, perhaps purposely, or with an oblique motive of shutting down the Institution. "All this is likely to cause huge inconvenience to the local populace, apart from depriving the children of their constitutional right. As it is, people hailing from the tribal area are reluctant to move out. Hence the necessity is all the more, for reaching out to people of this section of society, also providing them facilities for acquiring full education", the bench had reflected at an earlier occasion.
The Government had assured of dealing with the problem, on a pro active basis, ensuring that not only the Institutions are allowed to remain operational and functional but also the general populace sensitised of sending their children, more particularly the girls, to undertake and complete their education at least up to higher standards i.e. Class X and Class-XII and even thereafter.