Saturday, September 25, 2010

Need to have High Court appointed RTE Commissioners

Despite constitutional and statutory provisions, the conditions in State funded schools catering the children of masses have not improved. The political parties ruling the Central and the States as well as the Bureaucrats sitting at the top in the governments are totally shameless and insensitive to the right to education of the children of the masses. It is our experience that the governments moved only when they are pulled up by the Courts and issues highlighted by the media. The students, parents and civil society organizations should write without delay to the Chief Justice of their respective State to appoint Right to Education Commissioners to check the frequent violations of the right to education of the children.

RTE Violations - MCD Primary School, Noor Nagar, New Delhi

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Delhi High Court constituted three-lawyer committee visited MCD Primary School, Noornagar, South Delhi Area on Friday September 24, 2010. Nearly, 600 girls in morning and nearly same number of boys in afternoon are studying in School. Though newly constructed school building had toilet block for the student but the same was found was locked and the students were easing themselves in open. The students were either sitting on floor or on desks having no back support. The teachers were found sitting in Principal's room and were not taking classes. The drinking water tank found to be containing foreign particles. The computer room though having computers but was non-functional in absence of computer teacher for months. The cobwebs appearing in the inside of the door revealing that the computer room has been locked for months. The old toilet block was stinking. Garbage was not clean for months.

Horrible Conditions - Govt. SKV Noor Nagar, New Delhi

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Delhi High Court constituted three-lawyer committee visited Government SKV, Noornagar, South Delhi Area on Friday September 24, 2010. Nearly, 2500 girls in morning and nearly same number of boys in afternoon are studying in nursery to class XII. Don’t surprise to know that for years, there is no water facility in the school. Toilet blocks are stinking. Garbage are lying every where. Classrooms are dirty and full of cobwebs. Mid-day meal quality is found to be inferior and being distributed in most indecent and unhygienic manner. Complaints of corporal punishment were also received

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

No one here to teach disabled students – Delhi HC issues contempt notices to Delhi chief secretary, MCD chief

The Delhi High Court on 20.09.2010 issued notices to Chief Secretary Rakesh Mehta and Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) Commissioner K S Mehra on a contempt petition filed by Social Jurist, A Civil Rights Group through Advocate Ashok Agarwal complaining that Delhi Govt and MCD were required to recruit 6000 special teachers for their 3000 schools for education of disabled students which they have failed to do.

The petition states that the government and the corporation had failed to comply with a court order directing them to appoint at least two teachers for disabled students in each of their schools and to provide necessary teaching aids and reading material to the disabled students within six months. Justice G.S. Sistani asked Mehta and Mehra to file a compliance report within four weeks, failing which; they would have to appear in court.

The PIL was filed in 2009 seeking directions to provide trained teachers, including those qualified in sign language and Braille, for students with disabilities like blindness, hearing impairment and mental retardation. It also sought a barrier free environment in schools for students with disabilities, special toilets, books, including reading and writing material in Braille, and other equipments needed for the education for the blind students.

According to the PIL, thousand of students with disabilities and particularly those suffering from blindness, hearing impairment and mental retardation were studying in the 1,000 Delhi government and 1,800 MCD schools, without specially trained teachers. ‘In the absence of special educators, the children with disabilities who are already in the schools are dropping out and other children with disabilities do not dare to go to school,’ said Ashok Agarwal, counsel in the case.

The next date of hearing is Nov 10, 2010.

Ashok Agarwal, Advocate
M-09811101923
21.09.2010

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Relevance of RTI Act to RTE Act


30 volunteers of Social Jurist met today and discussed the relevance of RTI Act to RTE Act. It was noted that the volunteers interested in visiting govt and MCD run schools to ascertain the conditions of such schools are entitled to do so under RTI Act. It has been our past experience that by mere keeping an eye by the volunteers (Civil Society) on the schools on regular basis, schools' functioning are improved.

Ashok Agarwal, Advocate
Advisor Social Jurist
M-09811101923
12.09.2010

Saturday, September 11, 2010

IGNORED BY ALL – Minor son performs duties for absent father – It is all in MCD

14 years old Class VI dropped-out-student Sonu is found working as sweeper today morning (11.09.2010) in the premises of the District Courts, Tis Hazari, Delhi-110054. The sanitation work in the premises is the responsibility of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi. If anything wrong is happened to this child, who will be responsible?

Photo by Ashok Agarwal

ENGLISH DENIES – SANSKRIT IMPOSED – DELHI HC GRANTS CONDITIONAL RELIEF TO CLASS XI STUDENT - SJ WRITES TO DOE FOR EXTENDING BENEFIT TO ALL STUDENTS

To, 11.09.2010
The Director of Education,
Govt. of NCT of Delhi,
Old Secretariat Building,
Civil Lines, Delhi-110054,

Sub: Request to extend the benefit of Delhi High order dated 31.08.2010 in L.P.A. No. 635 of 2010 to all similarly situated students

Dear Sir,

Find enclosed hereto a copy of Order dated 31.08.2010 of a D.B. of Hon’ble Delhi High Court passed in LPA No. 635 of 2010 entitled Kumari Jyoti Gupta versus Govt. of NCT of Delhi & Ors, whereby the Hon’ble Judges were pleased to direct you to allocate the English subject to Kumari Jyoti Gupta in class XI subject to the condition that she will qualify subject of English pertaining to class X in the supplementary CBSE examination.

It is submitted that there are hundreds of similarly situated students of class XI studying different Govt. schools in Delhi who have been denied English subject & were forced to take Sanskrit subject despite their disliking for Sanskrit subject. In my opinion, the benefit of the aforementioned order should also be made available to all the similarly situated students at your end.

It is, therefore, requested that necessary action may kindly be taken immediately in this matter.

With regards,


Ashok Agarwal, Advocate
Advisor Social Jurist
M-09811101923
____________________________________________________________________

IN THE HIGH COURT OF DELHI AT NEW DELHI


LPA 635/2010 and CM No. 15711/2010


KUMARI JYOTI GUPTA ....Appellant
Through: Mr. Ashok Agarwal and Ms. Kusum Sharma,
Advocates

versus


GOVT OF NCT OF DELHI & ORS …Respondents
Through: Mr. Rajiv Nanda, Advocate for Respt No. 1 & 2
Mr. Atul Kumar, Advocate for Respt No. 3

CORAM:
HON’BLE THE CHIEF JUSTICE
HON’BLE MR. JUSTICE MANMOHAN

ORDER
31.08.2010

Calling in question the legal sustainability of the order dated 17th August, 2010 passed by the learned Single Judge in WP(C) No.5393/2010, the appellant-petitioner has preferred this intra-court appeal under Clause 10 of the Letters Patent.

The appellant invoked the jurisdiction of this Court as she was not allocated the subject of English in Class XIth. The learned Single Judge denied the relief on the ground that she had not passed in English Subject in Class Xth but had passed in other five subjects which included Sanskrit.

Mr. Ashok Aggarwal, learned counsel appearing for the appellant, submitted that there is not prohibition for admitting a student in the stream of English if the circular dated 28th May, 2010 issued by the State Government is properly appreciated.

Per contra, Mr. Rajiv Nanda, learned counsel appearing for the State, submitted that the circular only enables a student to get admission to Class XIth but that does not really denude the power of the school to allocate the subject on a rational basis.

The learned counsel appearing for the State, submitted that taking admission is in one sphere and allocation of subject is in another realm.

In our considered opinion, the view expressed by the learned Single Judge is correct. Be it noted, a statement was made before the learned Single Judge by the Head Master of the school that if the appellant-petitioner would clear the supplementary examination in English, she will be allocated the same subject in Class XIIth.

The learned counsel for the appellant submitted that she may be allocated the subject in English, subject to the condition that she would qualify in the supplementary examination.

In view of the aforesaid limited prayer, we are inclined to direct that the appellant be allocated the English subject in Class XIth subject to the condition that she will qualify in the supplementary examination. On her failure, she would be brought to the original stream. It may be made clear that the aforesaid prayer is allowed at the risk of the appellant.

Mr. Atul Kumar, learned counsel appearing for the CBSE, has fairly stated that if the appellant submits an application for appearing in the supplementary examination in respect of the subject of English pertaining to class Xth examination within a period of three weeks from the date of receipt of the order passed today, the same shall be entertained and she will be permitted to undertake the supplementary examination.

With the aforesaid modification in the order of the learned Single Judge, the appeal stands disposed of without any order as to costs.

Dasti.


CHIEF JUSTICE



AUGUST 31, 2010 MANMOHAN, J

TALK BY ASHOK AGARWAL – Role of Lawyers in Education

ABSTRACT

Until not so long ago, lawyers has little or no role in school education, except perhaps in relation to cases regarding service matters of teachers and of cases of school managements against teachers etc. The phenomenon of voluntary action by lawyers is a fairly recent trend, perhaps not more than 10 to 15 years old. However, as soon as education comes to be defined as a right of the child, the importance of lawyers in completing the circuit that which will ensure the right to education becomes inevitable.

This lecture will trace the movement for defending the right to education from the advent of PILs to the present, before discussing some issues that can and have emerged in the context of right to education in schools. Some of these relate to – denial of admission in government schools; against child cruelty in the name of private school admissions; lack of basic provisions in schools – water, electricity, tin roofs and tents: protection from the weather; corporal punishment and other forms of humiliation; lack of connection from primary to upper primary education; the dissociation between the aims of education vs the goals of schools; the issue of unjustified Fee hike in private schools and of the issue of free land to schools and deprivation of educational rights of poor children.

This lecture will then discuss how in taking action on behalf of educational rights of poor children, one comes to awareness that simply finding a case and fighting it is not enough. Unless public opinion and public anger is also built up against such denials, these wrongs will continue. I will then discuss how I learnt to enlist the support of the media in creating awareness and opinion.

At the same time, however, I realized that going to the courts alone cannot and should not be an answer to all ills in education. Mobilising public outcry is also important. Sometimes, when people come together to demand action, matters can be rectified without going to a court. I will discuss in my lecture how at this point, I learnt to strategise, when to use what strategy to achieve justice for children’s right to education.

However, there is a limit to what one lawyer can do. There are many problems for one lawyer to cope with. Through my work so far I have merely demonstrated what lawyers can do and how to do it. But it cannot be denied that there needs to be an escalation of lawyer intervention on behalf of the child. Perhaps time has come to move from individual initiative to networked legal aid; to development of systems of case support to lawyers; to evolution of government schemes of lawyer involvement; for informational systems to be developed for orientation and briefing of lawyers and judges in right to education.

May be it is also time for including Right to Education (RTE) in the formal and informal curriculum of legal education. Students in law colleges should learn about child rights and their defence in the curriculum, just as they learn about contracts and criminal law. Universities should actively think about separate optional papers, diploma and certificate courses in RTE. Similarly, there could be research on PILs in education.

In closing, I would like to argue that legal intervention acts as a trigger to reform in education. Not only does it serve to highlight wrongs and rectify them, but ultimately, it will also build communities in schools who know their rights and duties and there are fewer predispositions towards misbehaviour. Already, the parents in private schools are no longer as timid as they once were, and already government officers are becoming alert to ensuring transparency and justice. Through the intervention of lawyers, I see a vision of future with mutual respect and improved provisioning of education from a rights-based perspective.


NCERT Memorial Lecture Series 2010-11
On 5th October 2010 At 2:30 p.m.
At The Regional Institute of Education, Bhopal

Thursday, September 2, 2010

IRONY OF RTE ACT, 2009 - CHILDREN PICKING RAGS IN DELHI HIGH COURT PREMISES


Suraj (9 yrs) and Kapil (7 yrs) have never attended school and instead picking rags are seen here carrying empty Whisky bottle in Delhi High Court premises on September 02, 2010.
Photo Ashok Agarwal