Muzaffarnagar Student Slapping | 'Why Appoint A Committee For This?' Supreme Court Directs UP Govt To Facilitate Victim's Admission To Private School

Awstika Das

6 Nov 2023 12:23 PM GMT

  • Muzaffarnagar Student Slapping | Why Appoint A Committee For This? Supreme Court Directs UP Govt To Facilitate Victims Admission To Private School
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    In the latest development in the Muzaffarnagar student slapping case, the Supreme Court on Monday (November 6) questioned the necessity of a committee proposed to be constituted by the Uttar Pradesh government to facilitate the victim's admission to a private school. Coming down harshly on the education department, Justice Abhay S Oka asked, "Why do you have to appoint a committee for this as well? Please don't take such a stand that you want to appoint a committee. What will the committee do?"

    Not only this, but the court also orally directed the State to ensure that a senior government officer spoke to the principal of the school in which the child's father was keen to get him admitted. Justice Oka said, "I don't think any school will say no given the facts of the case. By Friday, we want compliance."

    A bench of Justices Abhay S Oka and Pankaj Mithal was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by activist Tushar Gandhi seeking a proper and time-bound investigation into the incident. The case relates to a primary school teacher in Uttar Pradesh's Muzaffarnagar instructing schoolchildren to slap their Muslim classmate, a video of which became viral on social media in August.

    In September, the court directed the Muzaffarnagar police superintendent to submit a report on the investigation's progress and the steps taken to protect the minor victim, while issuing notice. During the last hearing, after perusing the police superintendent's report, the bench expressed dissatisfaction with the Uttar Pradesh police's handling of the case, particularly over the delay in filing a first information report (FIR) and the omission of allegations of communal hatred from it. Consequently, the court ordered that a senior police officer investigate the case. The state government has further been asked to provide expert counselling to the victim, as well as the other children involved in the incident, and to provide facilities to the victim in terms of the Right to Education Act and Article 21A of the Constitution. Compliance reports have been sought before the next date of hearing.

    Notably, the court also noted a "prima facie failure on the part of the State" to adhere to the Right to Education Act and rules, which prohibit the physical and mental harassment of students and their discrimination based on religion and caste. The bench remarked that if the allegations were true, it should shock the conscience of the State. It also observed that there cannot be any quality education if a student is sought to be penalised only on the ground that they belong to a particular community.

    On the last occasion, the court mulled over the idea of appointing an expert agency working in the field of child welfare to visit the victim of the Muzaffarnagar student slapping case and provide counselling to him in his home, while expressing dissatisfaction over the state government insisting that the child visit a counselling centre to receive counselling. "The child is so traumatised. You expect him to come to the counselling centre?" the education department was asked during the hearing.

    Other than this, the court was also told that the investigation has been completed and charges under Section 295A (outraging religious feelings or insulting religious beliefs) of the Indian Penal Code and the second proviso to Section 75 (punishment for cruelty to child) of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 added. "Government sanction for prosecution under Section 295A is awaited," Additional Solicitor-General KM Nataraj said. In response, the court directed the government to immediately decide the application for prior sanction under Section 295A of the Indian Penal Code.

    The hearing today was adjourned since the bench could not peruse the affidavit filed by the education department on Saturday. "There's no compliance. We don't have any copy of any affidavit. We'll keep it on Friday, since we don't have the benefit of the replies," Justice Oka exclaimed, "Why were they filed so late?"

    Justice Oka then asked Additional Solicitor General SV Raju whether he had sought instructions about the issue of appointing an expert agency or organisation to provide counselling to the victim of the incident, as well as the other children involved. The law officer replied, "I'm told there's one King George's Medical University in Lucknow. If required, this can be referred to them."

    Advocate Shadan Farasat, appearing for the petitioner, opined that the Tata Institute of Social Studies (TISS) would be a better alternative. "King George's is a reputed hospital, no doubt. But in terms of child psychology, this child is quite...TISS may be a better option. The State may bear the expense and TISS may be appointed."

    "Find out in the meantime if there are child psychologists available. This institution is also reputed," Justice Oka directed, before adding that an institute like the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences Hospital (NIMHANS) would be 'better'. "They have a lot of experts available."

    In response to this, ASG Nataraj pointed out, "It's not there in every state."

    Farasat also chimed in, "What may be needed is continuous counselling, and not a one-time thing."

    The bench also asked the state government if the victim had been admitted to a school. The counsel for the education department replied, "The child's father has filed an affidavit seeking admission in a CBSE school. We have formed a committee because it's covered under CBSE, not UP board. In the UP board, we have no issues, we can get him admitted.

    Justice Oka asked Farasat at this juncture, "In which school do you want to get him admitted?"

    Farasat replied, "There's a good school in the area. I'm sure the State can facilitate the admission, even though it's a private school. It also provides seats for economically weaker sections."

    The education department, however, pointed out that the school in which the victim's father was keen to get him admitted was a private school. The counsel demurred, "We have formed a committee. We are trying to get him admitted..."

    However, the judge was surprised that a committee had to be admitted to facilitate the child's admission to the school. "If the State makes a request to a private school, why would it refuse? Why do you have to appoint a committee for this as well? Please don't take such a stand that you want to appoint a committee. What will the committee do? Please see that some senior government officer talks to the principal of the school. It'll be done. I don't think any school will say no given the facts of the case."

    "We'll pass the necessary instructions," the counsel for the education department assured in the end.

    Justice Oka asked, "You want us to pass orders, or will you do it?"

    "We'll do it," the counsel replied.

    "By Friday, we want compliance," Justice Oka cautioned before adjourning the hearing until November 10.


    The controversy is over a private school teacher, Tripta Tyagi, in Muzaffarnagar, Uttar Pradesh instructing her students to physically assault a seven-year-old Muslim student – ostensibly as punishment for his poor performance in multiplication tables – while making communal remarks, prompting nationwide outrage. In a video that went viral last month, Tyagi can be heard directing students to slap the boy one by one. As the child is slapped and cries, Tyagi is heard making offensive remarks about 'Mohammedan children'.

    Following the incident, a first information report (FIR) was registered against Tyagi on August 26 under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, including Section 323 (punishment for causing voluntarily hurt) and Section 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of peace). In August, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) also took suo moto cognizance of the incident and issued notices to the UP government's chief secretary and the director general of police, within days of a complaint being filed by UP-based lawyer SM Haider Rizvi. The commission has called for a detailed report on the matter within four weeks and expressed concern about the violation of the victim's human rights. It has also requested information on actions taken against the teacher, the status of the FIR, compensation to the affected family, and preventive measures to avoid such incidents in the future.

    In September, social activist and Mahatma Gandhi's great-grandson Tushar Gandhi approached the Supreme Court, calling for an independent and time-bound probe into the incident and the prompt registration of FIRs against those responsible. In his petition filed through Advocate-on-Record Shadan Farasat, Gandhi has urged the court to direct an investigation of offences under the Indian Penal Code, including that of promoting enmity between different groups based on religion and uttering words with the deliberate intent to wound religious feelings, as well as various offences under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015.

    Case Details

    Tushar Gandhi v. State of Uttar Pradesh | Writ Petition (Criminal) No. 406 of 2023

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