Muzaffarnagar Student Slapping Case | Supreme Court Asks UP Govt For Plan To Implement TISS' Recommendations

Awstika Das

11 Dec 2023 12:29 PM GMT

  • Muzaffarnagar Student Slapping Case | Supreme Court Asks UP Govt For Plan To Implement TISS Recommendations

    In the latest development in the Muzaffarnagar student slapping case, the Supreme Court on Monday (December 11), the court sought a response from the Uttar Pradesh government on how it proposed to implement the recommendations made by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS). Besides this, the court once again stressed on the importance of providing the best educational opportunity...

    In the latest development in the Muzaffarnagar student slapping case, the Supreme Court on Monday (December 11), the court sought a response from the Uttar Pradesh government on how it proposed to implement the recommendations made by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS). Besides this, the court once again stressed on the importance of providing the best educational opportunity possible to the victim of the incident apart from other facilities like counselling. 

    A bench of Justices Abhay S Oka and Sandeep Mehta 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. 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. 

    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.

    The state government was further 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. During the subsequent hearing, the court came down harshly on the education department for its reluctance to facilitate the victim's admission to a private school under the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) board, questioning the necessity of a committee proposed to be constituted by the Uttar Pradesh government for the process. Not only this, the bench also 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. 

    In a strongly worded order on the last occasion, the top court criticised the State of Uttar Pradesh and its education department for failing to comply with orders related to counseling and admission for the victim. Expressing shock at the state's approach, the court appointed the Tata Institute of Social Sciences to provide counseling and expert child counselors. The education department's principal secretary was also directed to appear virtually for the next hearing.

    Today, the court revealed that the Tata Institute of Social Sciences has submitted its report and asked the government about how it intended to implement the recommendations contained in it. "We have the report prepared by TISS. In what manner can they be implemented? One important thing recorded in your favour is that the child has settled in the school and is happy. Address us on the implementation, since TISS has said they will only advise the government," Justice Oka said during the hearing.

    To this, Uttar Pradesh Additional Advocate General Garima Prashad assured the court that the state government has examined, understood, and discussed the institute's recommendations. However, she flagged a concern over the socioeconomic differences between the victim and other children studying in the private school. "In its report, TISS also said that the child may feel left out because of socioeconomic differences. In fact, it was our humble proposal...The school is about 26-28 kms away from where the child stays in the village. It must take about an hour. There are six govt schools, and five private schools closer."

    "Convey it to the father of the child. That can be worked out. Now, it wouldn't be right to disturb him," Justice Oka replied. 

    Advocate Shadan Farasat, appearing on behalf of public interest litigant Tushar Gandhi, however objected to the government's suggestion, pointing out, "He has settled with much difficulty, finally." In response to the bench's suggestion to consider admitting him to a premier boarding school in the area to among other things, insulate him from the glare of the media, the counsel argued that it might challenging for a young child to adapt to such changes. 

    Justice Oka said, "Just consider it. Ultimately, it will have to be left to the parents. The important part of the exercise is that TISS says that the child is comfortable in the school in which he is currently enrolled." 

    AAG Prashad once again attempted to highlight certain concerns with his enrolment in this school, saying, "The distance is so great, 200 rupees per day is being spent only for transportation. The father goes to drop..."

    Promptly Farasat countered, "It is the best school in town. His parents want him to be in the best school, which is why his father is making the effort to go and drop him everyday,"

    "Put your suggestions across to the parents," Justice Oka told the law officer, before adding, "Ultimately, they will have to make the call. The child should be in the best possible school."

    After the brief courtroom exchange, the bench adjourned the hearing until January 12. In its order, the court asked the state government to file a report on the manner in which it proposed to implementation the recommendations made by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences -

    "We have perused a very exhaustive report submitted by Tata Institute of Social Sciences. The first issue is the implementation of the recommendations incorporated in the report. For that purpose, the petition will be listed on January 12. As regards the other issues flagged in earlier orders, a date will be fixed later on. In the meanwhile, the concerned state govt officials will interact with the experts of TISS to work out the modalities of the implementation of the recommendation. We direct the state to file a report containing details about the manner in which the state proposes to implement the recommendations in the report. The State's response shall be filed by January 17. Personal presence of secretaries present today are dispensed with for the time being."


    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

    Click Here To Read/Download Order

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