Sunday, April 20, 2008


On April 02, 2008, two boy students, namely, Madan and Mohan (names changed) aged 11 years, of class V of MCD Primary School, Burari, Delhi (India) were assaulted by four teenagers aged 13 to 16 years out side the school when these students were going back to their homes around noon after attending the school. Two of the culprits stopped these students and asked them to give them money. The moment, the students told them that they do not have any money; one of the culprits took out a knife from his pocket and assaulted Madan whereas another culprit caught hold of Mohan and hit him at his mouth. The clothes of Madan were torn and the blood started coming from the mouth of Mohan. Both the students were terrified and somehow, they pushed the culprits and run away to their homes. On reaching home, Madan narrated the incident to his old grandmother as his mother had died long away and his father left the house about 10 years ago. The grandmother is living in abject poverty and somehow, looking after three children including Madan of her son. Mohan also narrated the incident to his parents.

The aforesaid incident came to the notice of Advocate Ashok Agarwal when he visited the school on 04.04.2008. On entering the class V, he saw an old lady sitting on a chair in the classroom. On enquiry from the class teacher, he came to know that the old lady is the grandmother of the student Madan and she had came to school in connection with the incident of 2nd April. The old lady and the students narrated the incident to him. He was shocked to hear about the incident. He immediately took both the students and the old lady to the nearby police post of Burari and requested the police post in-charge to lodge the report. One Head Constable recorded the statements of both the students on a piece of paper and assured that necessary action would be taken. Thereafter, the students and the old lady were dropped back at the school. The Head Constable informed Mr. Agarwal in the evening that the FIR could not be registered without the permission of the Juvenile Justice Board as all the four assailants were minor.

The aforesaid incident gives rise to several serious issues like, safety of school students, increasing teenagers’ delinquency, relevance of existing laws and functioning of the juvenile justice system etc. It may not be out of the context to mention that the Sunday Times of India, New Delhi, April 20, 2008 reported that an eight-year-old girl was crushed to death by a school bus in Hastsal area near Uttam Nagar early on Saturday. Kajal, a student of class II of a government school, was walking down to her school around 7.30 am when a minibus carrying students of a private school in Vikaspuri reportedly hit her killing her on the spot. The Times of India, April 17, 2008 reported that in one of the worst road disasters in Gujrat, 41 children and three adults drowned in the Narmada main canal when a state transport bus crashed and plunged the railings of a bridge and plunged 60 feet, or about five storeys, into the canal at 6.15 am on Wednesday. The young victims were headed for school for the penultimate paper in the annual exams when the driver lost control of the rickety government-owned bus after its axle broke.

Saturday, April 19, 2008



Social Jurist team consisting of Advocate Ashok Agarwal and Law Student Tanya on Monday, 14 April 2008 visited the MCD Primary School, Anand Vihar II, Delhi (India).

The school is run in two shifts. The girl students study in the morning shift and the boy students in the afternoon shift. The strength of the boy students in the afternoon shift is around 550. All these students are the inhabitants of the nearby slums. Some of them were not in the school uniform. Some of them were not even in shoes. The attendance of the students was also poor. There was no one to man the school gate. We were told by the principal that school does not have an attendant. Other observations are as under.

(1) Though the academic session has started from 01.04.2008 but the students have not been provided with the books and stationary so far. Less than 25 % of class V students were having few books belonging to the out going Class V students. In all other classes, some of the students were having few books which were provided to them by the school from its last year’s stock. The similar situation must be prevailing in all most all the 1800 MCD run Primary Schools in Delhi. Is any body accountable for it? It is the duty of the school authorities to provide to all its students all the books and stationary at the beginning of the academic year but it has never happened. It only reflects the degree of seriousness on the part of the authorities to provide quality education to these children of the masses. The school authorities deliberately do not want that these children should get equal educational opportunity to compete with their own children who are not studying in these municipal schools. It would not be wrong to say that it is all due to caste and class bias.

(2) No proper electricity in the classrooms. The students were studying in the classrooms without proper light and even the fans were not working properly.

(3) No proper benches for the students to sit: - firstly, there were not enough benches as compared to the class strength. Most of the benches had no back support. Secondly, on a bench for two students, as many as four students were found sitting. It is happening when many students are absent. Imagine the situation when all the enrolled students are present in the classroom. The students’ absenteeism was alarming. Many of the class I students were found sitting on a dirty rug.

(4) No proper toilets for the students to use: - the condition is so bad that the students are forced to urinate outside the toilets and that makes the whole place stink whereas the teacher’s toilets were clean. The principal told us that the sweeper is not attending duties for the last so many days and the school has no other alternative arrangement. All the classrooms except that of the computer room were dirty. A heap of garbage and a broom in one corner of all most all the classrooms was a common feature. It appears that some one or may be the students in the morning shift might have cleaned the classrooms and then kept the heap of garbage and the broom in one corner of the classrooms.

(5) Impure drinking water: - at least two water tanks did not have a lid. The students were refilling their water bottles from the same unhygienic tank and the school authorities paid no attention to this.

(6) The teaching staff was complaining that the classrooms are not enough. At least two more classrooms are required. We have noticed that one big room used to accommodate the nursery class students of the Ist shift is not made available to the IInd shift school. The reasons are not known. Two rooms are used as offices of the different shifts principals. One room is used for storing Kabar. It appears that the shortage of the classrooms is artificial and due to mismanagement.

(7) It is pertinent to mention that the roof of the entire school building is made of asbestos sheets. The roofs of some of the classrooms had holes. There was no white washing in the entire school building for years. The students in the classrooms were feeling uncomfortable due to hot temperature. A pucca building is immediately required to provide a conducive environment to the students.

The Hon’ble Supreme Court in the recent judgment in the “reservation case” highlighted the failure of the Government to implement the constitutional mandate of free and compulsory education to the children. Government is making tall claims but the ground reality is that the government has made a mockery of the fundamental right to education.

Ashok Agarwal, Advocate Tanya, Law Student
M-09811101923 M-09818494255


By Ashok Agarwal, Advocate

A well known adage that “JUSTICE DELAYED IS JUSTICE DENIED” could not have a better example than the case of the 50 female workers of the Super Bazar, the Cooperative Store Ltd., New Delhi (India) who have finally been paid the difference in pay between male and female workers doing the same or similar work, amounting to a paltry sum of Rs. 5210.40 each, without any interest or any compensation whatsoever, after 20 long years of protracted and heroic legal battle. The most positive aspect of this long and arduous legal battle is that the female workers could not have won the case without the dedicated and unrelenting support and solidarity rendered by the legal fraternity who stood by them through thick and thin over 20 long years.

This case highlights not only the individual sufferings of female workers, the discriminatory treatment in work and pay to which the female workers are subjected even in Government enterprises, the pitfalls of the justice delivery system but foremost the fact that the final outcome may be seen only as a pittance in terms of money alone but which otherwise is a golden harvest in terms of the lessons that it has regarding availability of committed and quality legal services for the weak and down trodden in a society overridden by inequity, discrimination and injustice. Advocate Ashok Agarwal who also happened to be the Secretary of the Super Bazar Employees Union, provided his expertise legal services to these female workers right from identifying the violation of the Act, filing of claims before the Authority and representing them to the last.

These female workers as back as in April 1987 filed their claims before the Authority under Equal Remuneration Act, 1976 seeking computation of difference of pay for the period from 01.09.1984 to 31.03.1987 amounting to Rs.5201.40 each. It was submitted that they were working as piece rate packers since 1978. On 08.10.1984, the Super Bazar issued orders regularizing the services of the piece rated female and male packers in the regular pay scale w.e.f. 01.09.1984. What the Super Bazar did was that all the female piece rated packers were given the pay scale of Rs. 150-360 whereas the male packers were given the pay scale of Rs.185-440 though both female packers and male packers continued to perform same and similar work, which they had been performing prior to 08.10.1984. It is interesting to note that one Sujjan (female worker) was included in the list of men workers and so was getting a higher remuneration but when it came to be known that she was a female worker, her name was excluded from the list of male workers and included in the list of female workers and her remuneration was reduced.

The Authority by orders dated 13.05.1988 allowed the claim of the female workers. The Super Bazar filed appeal before the Appellate Authority. The Appellate Authority by orders dated 06.03.1989 reversed the order of the Authority and dismissed the claim applications of the female workers. The female workers filed writ petition in the Hon’ble Delhi High Court in 1989 challenging the orders of the Appellate Authority. A Single Judge bench of the High Court by Judgment dated 13.08.2004 reversed the orders of the Appellate Authority and restored the orders passed by the Authority. The Super Bazar filed appeal before a Division Bench of the High Court and the Hon’ble Division Bench was pleased to dismiss the appeal on 29.05.2005. Thereafter, the female workers approached the Labour Department for implementation of the orders. . The amounts have been disbursed by the Super Bazar only in the months of March-April 2008.

The High Court took the view that the concept of the equality in all its aspects is enshrined in Article 14 of our Constitution. There may be some discrimination on certain well defined principles but in the matter of pay-scales, there cannot be any inequality or discrimination only on the ground of sex. In fact, Article 39 (d) of the Constitution also provides for equal pay for equal work. The constitutional basis for the claim of the petitioners is, therefore, firmly established and needs no elaboration.

It is unfortunate that some of the female workers have died and could not enjoy the fruits of their dedicated fight against gender injustice. It is submitted that after the High Court decisions, the Super Bazar ought to have at their own paid the difference of pay for the period from 01.04.1987 onwards till the female workers remained in its services but it has not been done and the female workers have been compelled to go for another round of litigation. Is it not a travesty of justice?

The Equal Remuneration Act, 1976 is one of the significant social legislations aimed at providing gender justice in regard to the pay and emolument in the matter of same or similar work between the male and the female workers. Section 4 of the Act provides that no employer shall pay to any worker, employed by him in an establishment or employment, remuneration, whether payable in cash or in kind, at rates less favourable than those at which remuneration is paid by him to the workers of the opposite sex in such establishment or employment for performing the same work or work of similar nature.. In terms of Section 9 of the Act, it is the duty of the Government to ensure that the provisions of this Act are complied with. Section 10 of the Act makes the non-compliance of the provisions of the Act punishable with fine which shall not be less than 10,000 rupees but which may extend to 20,000 rupees or with imprisonment for a term which shall be not less than three months but which may extend to one year or with both for the first offence, and with imprisonment which may extend to two years for the second and subsequent offences.

It is a well known fact that the female workers particularly in unorganized sector are quite often discriminated against in the matter of pay and emoluments and the government is merely a mute spectator. However, there are rare cases having been dealt with under the provisions of this Act. This social legislation is more often violated with impunity. This long successful battle having been fought by the 50 female workers of the Super Bazar at least gives a hope to the masses that the rights are won by dedicated struggle, no matter how long this struggle may be. However, one cannot loose sight of the fact that without the help of committed and dedicated legal expertise, such successes are difficult to achieve.
(author can be contacted at Email:, M-09811101923)

Monday, April 7, 2008


One might came across several instances where students are found without teacher but here is a case where teachers are found without teacher. Municipal Corporation of Delhi runs several primary schools in the capital city of India catering nearly 1 million students. With the recent introduction of computer education in these schools, the teachers are sent to teachers training institute to receive training in the computer education.

As a part of this programme, a batch of 20 such teachers from different primary schools were attending 14 days training class in computer education at Teachers Training Institute, Shakti Nagar Extension. Since the schools were functional, the students would remain without teachers during all these 14 days.

On 05.04.2008, while visiting MCD Primary School at Shakti Nagar Extension, I also got an opportunity to visit the said training institute as it happened to be in the same premises. What I found there was very much unexpected. I found that though all the trainees’ teachers were present and busy with computers but without their trainer teacher for the entire day. Interestingly, they were seemed not even bother about the absence of their teacher.

Ironically, at the same time, both the students at the school and their teachers at the training institute were facing the same problem of the “absence of teacher’.

Ashok Agarwal, Advocate
Advisor, Social Jurist